Is Syphilis Dangerous During Pregnancy?

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Syphilis, a contagious infection caused by Treponema pallidu bacteria and is primarily transmitted through sexual contact. Congenital syphilis is also a possibility for those expected mothers with syphilis. It results through trans-placental transmission of the bacteria to the baby.This transmission can be at any stage of pregnancy and may result either in death or multiple organ problems affecting ears, eyes, liver, bone marrow, skin, bones, and heart. Syphilis may also increase the chance of stillborn pregnancy. However, if one may have or suspect to have syphilis, there are certain precautions that can be taken during pregnancy period to limit the chances of the baby contracting congenital syphilis.


Treponema pallidu-syphilis-bacteria-kidborn

Syphilis Test during Pregnancy

First of all, it is necessary to get tested with the primary health care provider and take the necessary precautions regarding the prenatal health.

Some symptoms of syphilis during pregnancy include:

  • The development of a painful papule into a clean, painless ulcer which is usually located on the genitals and this sore will often heal four to six weeks after appearing.
  • After two to ten weeks after the sore heals, secondary syphilis may begin to develop.  During secondary stage of syphilis one may experience a rash, which may cover the whole body and symptoms like pustular lesions, grayish, white wart-like growths, fever, headache, anorexia, weight loss, sore throat and flu.
  • The secondary syphilis may become latent syphilis 1-2 months after onset. During latency period, the symptoms may disappear for several years.
  • After latency one may enter late stage syphilis and may be subjected to neurological symptoms and cardiovascular lesions.

How to Treat Syphilis During Pregnancy?

Syphilis can be easily treated with antibiotics unless the treatment begins at the early stages of pregnancy. The rate of infection during pregnancy in cases of untreated syphilis is very much high, in  40% fetal death rate in infected infants.


In case of survived babies, early symptoms of syphilis may occur during the first 2 years and late signs during the first 2 decades of life. If recognized early one can have a safe and happy pregnancy as long as one maintain the treatments and get regular care for syphilis.

Prenatal Care and Syphilis during Pregnancy

It is always advised to take necessary precautions to promote the health of mother and baby, even if there are less chances for congenital syphilis if treated in early stages. The precautions include:

  • Make the Obstetrician / Gynecologist aware of the condition of syphilis.
  • Get prenatal care fast.
  • Get regular screenings and sonograms as it is absolutely essential for identification of syphilis in infants.
  • Continue the regular testing regimen, unless and until other treatments are recommended by doctor. Traditional treatment for syphilis prior to pregnancy is considered to be the most effective and safe during pregnancy as well.

With adequate maternal treatment and good prenatal care the chances of the baby contracting syphilis is eliminated. Anyway, it is highly recommended that the mothers infected with syphilis to have their babies tested regularly until testing is conclusively negative.