An epidemic of congenital syphilis in Jefferson County, Texas, 1994-1995: inadequate prenatal syphilis testing after an outbreak in adults

Am J Public Health. 1999 Apr;89(4):557-60. doi: 10.2105/ajph.89.4.557.

Abstract

Objectives: After a syphilis epidemic in Jefferson County, Texas, in 1993 and 1994, congenital syphilis prevalence and risk factors were determined and local prenatal syphilis screening practices were assessed.

Methods: Medical records were reviewed, pregnant women with syphilis were interviewed, and prenatal care providers were surveyed.

Results: Of 91 women, 59 (65%) had infants with congenital syphilis. Among African Americans, the prevalence per 1000 live births was 24.1 in 1994 and 17.9 in 1995. Of the 50 women with at least 2 prenatal care visits who had infants with congenital syphilis, 15 (30%) had received inadequate testing. Only 16% of 31 providers obtained an early third-trimester syphilis test on all patients.

Conclusions: Inadequate prenatal testing contributed to this outbreak of congenital syphilis.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Disease Outbreaks / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Population Surveillance
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care / methods*
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Syphilis, Congenital / epidemiology*
  • Syphilis, Congenital / etiology
  • Syphilis, Congenital / prevention & control
  • Texas / epidemiology