Maternal and congenital syphilis in rural Haiti

Rev Panam Salud Publica. 2009 Sep;26(3):197-202. doi: 10.1590/s1020-49892009000900002.


Objectives: A study was conducted to assess the prevalence of maternal syphilis and estimate the rate of congenital syphilis in five rural villages surrounding Jeremie, Haiti.

Methods: This research was a retrospective observational study. Data were extracted from the Haitian Health Foundation's public health database and verified through original clinical paper records, death certificates, midwife reports, and discussions with community health workers. Data were analyzed by chi-square analysis, bivariate correlations, and two-tailed t-test for independent samples.

Results: Of the 410 women tested for syphilis, 31 (7.6%) were sero-reactive. Average gestation at time of testing was 25 weeks, which correlated with entry into prenatal care at an average of 23 weeks. Women who tested positive during pregnancy were more likely to have had a negative pregnancy outcome than those who did not (chi square = 16.4; P < 0.0001). The estimated rate of congenital syphilis in the region was 767 per 100,000 live births.

Conclusions: Maternal syphilis is prevalent in rural Haiti. This prevalence combined with late entry into prenatal care contributes to adverse pregnancy outcomes and a high estimated rate of congenital syphilis. More research is needed on congenital syphilis and prenatal-careseeking practices of rural Haitian women in order to understand the impact of maternal syphilis in the region and improve pregnancy outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Haiti / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rural Health
  • Syphilis / epidemiology*
  • Syphilis, Congenital / epidemiology*
  • Young Adult