The Barbados Health Ministry has reported a rise in syphilis cases in pregnant women. This is also leading to a rise in congenital syphilis cases – babies born to mothers with syphilis.
According to various studies, there were 17 cases of pregnant women diagnosed with syphilis in 2016. A preliminary analysis for 2017 shows the rate of syphilis in pregnant women will also be high.
Senior Medical Officer of Health Dr. Anton Best is responsible for the HIV/STI Program. Best said the most effective way to combat congenital syphilis is to detect and prevent it the condition in pregnant women. He said the Ministry of Health and Wellness’ rules stipulate that pregnant women should be given a syphilis screening test during the first doctor visit and against at 28 weeks’ pregnant.
Best said a woman with syphilis, in the early stage, puts her baby at risk for also catching syphilis, which can happen while in utero or during delivery. He said the only surefire way to prevent congenital syphilis is for pregnant women to be screened for the STD while pregnant. Women who test positive for syphilis will be given a shot of penicillin to treat the disease.
Written by Mark Riegel, MD
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