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Does Syphilis Cause Pregnancy Loss?

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Updated September 09, 2008

Question: Does Syphilis Cause Pregnancy Loss?

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are never good news, but each disease has a different impact on the risk of pregnancy loss. Syphilis is one of the riskiest STDs to have during pregnancy when it's not treated.

Answer:

An undetected syphilis infection can increase the risk of stillbirth or loss of the newborn baby, with as many as 40% of infected women losing their babies during pregnancy or shortly after birth.

In addition, babies exposed to syphilis during pregnancy may develop a very serious condition called congenital syphilis or they may become infected during birth. In either case, syphilis infection in a newborn can lead to life threatening problems and serious long-term developmental or neurological problems. Getting treatment before the third trimester decreases the risk of harm to the baby.

The CDC recommends that all pregnant women be screened for STDs at their first prenatal appointments. In the case of syphilis, this can be especially important, because people can sometimes be infected for years before they realize they have syphilis. If you are concerned that you have symptoms of syphilis or if you are at risk for infection, talk to your doctor as soon as possible for testing. The infection can be cured with treatment, and this can be as simple as a course of antibiotics, so it is not worth taking risks if you think you might have syphilis.

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control, "STD Facts - Syphilis." Jan 2008. Accessed 7 Sept 2008.

March of Dimes, "Sexually Transmitted Infections in Pregnancy." Jul 2007. Accessed 7 Sept 2008.

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  7. Syphilis and Pregnancy Loss - Syphilis During Pregnancy and Risk of Miscarriage

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