Pregnancy and syphilis: what do I care?

If you are pregnant and have syphilis, you can transmit the infection to your baby before birth. Also, having syphilis can lead to a baby of low birth weight. You can also make it more likely to be born premature or stillborn baby. To protect your baby, you should be tested for syphilis during pregnancy and childbirth and receive immediate treatment if the result is positive.

An infected baby may be born without signs or symptoms of the disease. However, if not treated immediately, the baby may develop serious problems within a few weeks. Untreated infants may have health problems such as cataracts, deafness, or convulsions and may die.


Penicillin G is known antimicrobial effective for the prevention of maternal transmission to the fetus and fetal infection treatment. There is insufficient evidence to determine optimal regimens recommended penicillin

Other considerations

Some evidence suggests that additional therapy is beneficial for pregnant women. For women who have latent syphilis primary, secondary, or early, a second dose of benzathine penicillin 2.4 million units IM may be administered one week after the initial dose.

When syphilis diagnosed during the second half of pregnancy, the administration must include a fetal ultrasound evaluation for congenital syphilis. However, this assessment should not delay therapy. Sonographic signs of fetal or placental syphilis (ie, hepatomegaly, ascites, hydrops, fetal anemia, or a thickened placenta) indicate an increased risk of fetal treatment failure. Cases with these characteristics should be managed in consultation with a gynecologist. There is insufficient evidence to recommend specific regimens for these situations.

All pregnant women who have syphilis tests should be performed to identify if they have HIV infection.

Sources; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Disease (CDC): The CDC Syphilis Fact Sheet. Retrieved on 8 July 2015; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Disease (CDC): Syphilis During Pregnancy. Retrieved on July 8, 2015.

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