It’s hard to believe but sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise. Last year, Chlamydia cases increased 7% and gonorrhea cases increased 9%. But the scariest statistic shows that cases of congenital syphilis – syphilis passed from a mother to her baby during pregnancy or delivery – have more than doubled since 2013! This data was reported in the annual Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report released in September by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
I don’t understand what has caused this problem. Are we getting complacent? What happened to all the time & energy we spend educating our patients about safer sex?
The data clearly demonstrates the need for safer sex practices to reduce the incidence of STDs. And, the requirement for all pregnant women to receive early prenatal care that includes syphilis testing. and follow-up testing for women at high risk of infection.
“When passed to a baby, syphilis can result in miscarriage, newborn death, and severe lifelong physical and mental health problems,” said Jonathan Mermin, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. “No parent should have to bear the death of a child when it would have been prevented with a simple test and safe treatment.”
While there are no effective over the counter or home remedies for syphilis, it is easily cured with a single intramuscular injection of long acting Benzathine penicillin G (2.4 million units IM) in all but the most advanced cases. There are other easy treatments for patients with a penicillin allergy. But left undiagnosed & untreated, a pregnant woman with syphilis has up to an 80 % chance of passing it on to her baby.
“To protect every baby, we have to start by protecting every mother,” said Gail Bolan, M.D., director of CDC’s Division of STD Prevention. “Early testing and prompt treatment to cure any infections are critical first steps, but too many women are falling through the cracks of the system. If we’re going to reverse the resurgence of congenital syphilis that has to change.”
As nurses, members of the most trusted profession, we have huge influence with our patients, and in our families & the community. We can encourage women to get early prenatal care. Pregnancy is natural, of course, but early prenatal care is strongly correlated with healthy full-term babies. This new data makes it even more important.
Mahalo for All You Do!