This image depicts a plantar view of an infant’s feet, revealing the presence of syphilitic lesions, which resulted from a case of congenital syphilis. If not immediately treated, babies may become developmentally delayed, have seizures, or die. Symptoms may not become initially apparent, but can develop within a few weeks. These signs and symptoms can be very serious.

USPSTF: All Pregnant Women Should Be Screened For Syphilis

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Melissa A. Simon, M.D., M.P.H. Member, U.S. Preventive Services Task Force George H. Gardner professor of clinical gynecology, Vice chair of clinical research Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Professor of preventive medicine and medical social sciences Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Dr. Simon

Melissa A. Simon, M.D., M.P.H.
Member, U.S. Preventive Services Task Force
George H. Gardner professor of clinical gynecology, Vice chair of clinical research
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Professor of preventive medicine and medical social sciences
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The number of babies born with syphilis is increasing, mirroring the recent increase of syphilis among women. Syphilis infection passed from a pregnant woman to her baby, also known as congenital syphilis, can lead to serious health complications for the baby including premature birth, low birthweight, birth defects, and even death. The Task Force recommends that all pregnant women be screened for syphilis as early in pregnancy as possible to prevent congenital syphilis. 

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: All pregnant women should be screened for syphilis as early in pregnancy as possible to prevent congenital syphilis. Often, there may not be any symptoms of syphilis early on, so it is important that all women get screened as early as possible, such as during their first prenatal visit. Anyone who is concerned that they may have syphilis should talk to their doctor.

The scope of this recommendation and accompanying evidence review was limited to screening for syphilis infection in pregnant women. However, the Task Force has separate recommendations for many other ways that people can stay healthy, including a recommendation that doctors screen all pregnant women for HIV. Pregnant women should always talk to their doctor about any relevant screenings that can help ensure that they and their babies stay healthy. 

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: There are some areas where additional research would be beneficial, including comparisons of different screening test processes, examinations of which populations should be re-screened during pregnancy, determinations around the most effective times during pregnancy to provide repeat screenings, and examinations of the effectiveness and safety of treatment options besides penicillin. 

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: This recommendation is consistent with the Task Force’s previous recommendation on this topic in 2009. It is important for all individuals who believe they are pregnant to obtain prenatal care as early in their pregnancy as possible so they may be able to receive the screenings and treatments that they need to have a safe and healthy pregnancy. There are no disclosures.

Citation:US Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for Syphilis Infection in Pregnant WomenUS Preventive Services Task Force Reaffirmation Recommendation Statement. JAMA. 2018;320(9):911–917. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.11785

Sep 9, 2018 @ 7:37 pm

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