Congenital syphilis--United States, 1998

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 1999 Sep 3;48(34):757-61.


Congenital syphilis (CS) occurs when the spirochete Treponema pallidum is transmitted from a pregnant woman with syphilis to her fetus. A multiorgan infection, CS may result in a neurologic or musculoskeletal handicap or death in the fetus when not properly treated. Trends in CS rates in women of childbearing age follow by approximately 1 year the rates of primary and secondary syphilis. The last national syphilis epidemic, which was followed by a CS epidemic, occurred during the late 1980s and early 1990s. The syphilis rate began to decline in 1991; the CS rate began to decline in 1992. To evaluate CS epidemiology since this decline, CDC analyzed 1998 CS notifiable disease data and assessed rate changes during 1992-1998. This report summarizes the results, which indicate that the CS rate declined 78.2% from 1992 to 1998, and that rates remained disproportionately high in the southeastern United States and among minority racial/ethnic populations.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / epidemiology
  • Syphilis / epidemiology
  • Syphilis, Congenital / epidemiology*
  • United States / epidemiology