Sexual Health news - Syphilis

New program in Texas attempts to decrease perinatal transmission of syphilis

Health officials in San Antonio, Texas, report an increasing number of babies who are born with syphilis, according to the Associated Press. So far in 2012, nine babies have been diagnosed, as compared to last year when a total number of eight were reported. To address this issue, the city's health officials will now follow expecting mothers who are affected during their pregnancies to ensure that they receive necessary treatment before giving birth.

The sexually transmitted disease (STD) is most notably characterized by a single sore on the external reproductive organs, which is typically the first symptom to appear, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If undiagnosed, a pregnant woman can pass the STD on to her unborn child.

Since health officials began the new program, no more cases have arisen. In addition, they're recommending that healthcare providers test pregnant women for syphilis not only during their first prenatal visit but also at the beginning of the third trimester, San Antonio Express-News reports. This can prevent babies from contracting the STD from affected mothers. Moreover, it decreases moms' likelihoods of having a stillbirth.

"There are plenty of resources for pregnant women in our community, so this really shouldn't be happening," said Donald Dudley, M.D., professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center. "The fact it does means that women either are scared to come in for care, or they're in such fragmented social situations they can't accomplish prenatal care. Either way, it should be preventable."