Congenital syphilis is a severe, disabling, and often life-threatening infection seen in infants. A pregnant mother who has syphilis can spread the disease through the placenta to the unborn infant.
Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors
Congenital syphilis is caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum, which is passed from mother to child during fetal development or at birth. Nearly half of all children infected with syphilis while they are in the womb die shortly before or after birth.
Despite the fact that this disease can be cured with antibiotics if caught early, rising rates of syphilis among pregnant women in the United States have increased the number of infants born with congenital syphilis.
Review Date : 11/2/2009
Reviewed By : Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Norhtwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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