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Cases of Newborn Syphilis on the Rise | WDIY Local News

The number of children born with congenital syphilis in Pennsylvania has dramatically risen (statistically) over the past few years, marking the highest number of cases since 1990. Dr. Bogen, Secretary of Health, delivered remarks at an event launched by the Department of Health to stress the need to test for syphilis throughout pregnancy and emphasize that the disease is preventable.
DAN ZAMPOGNA
/
PAcast
The number of children born with congenital syphilis in Pennsylvania has dramatically risen (statistically) over the past few years, marking the highest number of cases since 1990. Dr. Bogen, Secretary of Health, delivered remarks at an event launched by the Department of Health to stress the need to test for syphilis throughout pregnancy and emphasize that the disease is preventable.

Infants around the country are experiencing rising rates of newborn syphilis, and the Department of Health is hoping to combat it.

At a news conference in Wilkes-Barre last week, state and local health department leaders encouraged pregnant women to seek prenatal care and ask their doctors about testing for syphilis.

These tests could help prevent newborn, or congenital, syphilis, which experts are seeing record-high cases of throughout the country.

Acting Health Secretary, Dr. Debra Bogen, reinforced the concerns:

“Let me be clear, this is not an issue limited to Pennsylvania. There is a nationwide increase in the number of infants with newborn syphilis…The CDC report, which is based on 2022 data, shows that there were 10 times more babies born with newborn syphilis in 2022 than in 2012.”

Newborn syphilis occurs when a pregnant woman with the condition passes the infection onto a baby during pregnancy. The condition could cause miscarriages or pregnancy and birth complications.

In Wilkes-Barre and throughout the state, officials are working to spread word of the condition and its effects. Testing is being made more widely available through free and confidential methods.

“We must increase awareness among all residents. We want people to know that there are simple tests to diagnose syphilis, and treatments available to cure syphilis across the lifespan.”

A list of free testing options can be found on the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s website.

James is the News and Public Affairs Director for WDIY. He reports on stories in the Lehigh Valley and across the state which impact the region, along with managing WDIY's volunteers who help create the station's diverse line-up of public affairs programs.
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