The association between congenital syphilis and cocaine/crack use in New York City: a case-control study

Am J Public Health. 1991 Oct;81(10):1316-8. doi: 10.2105/ajph.81.10.1316.


From 1987 to 1989, an epidemic of congenital syphilis was observed in New York City. A case-control study was done to assess the association between various maternal risk factors and congenital syphilis. Independent of the effect of other factors, the odds of being exposed to cocaine were 3.9 times greater among cases than controls (95% confidence interval, 2.8-5.3). This study suggests that the epidemic of congenital syphilis may be related to the increase in cocaine/crack use among delivering mothers.

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Crack Cocaine*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Marriage
  • Maternal Age
  • New York City
  • Prenatal Care
  • Risk Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders / complications*
  • Syphilis, Congenital / epidemiology*
  • Syphilis, Congenital / etiology


  • Crack Cocaine