Increase in incidence of congenital syphilis - United States, 2012-2014

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2015 Nov 13;64(44):1241-5. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6444a3.


Congenital syphilis (CS) occurs when a mother infected with syphilis transmits the infection to her child during pregnancy. CS can cause severe illness, miscarriage, stillbirth, and early infant death. However, among pregnant women with syphilis who deliver after 20 weeks gestation, maternal treatment with penicillin is 98% effective at preventing CS (1). In the United States, the rate of CS decreased during 1991–2005 but increased slightly during 2005–2008 (2). To assess recent trends in CS, CDC analyzed national surveillance data reported during 2008–2014, calculated rates, and described selected characteristics of infants with CS and their mothers. The overall rate of reported CS decreased from 10.5 to 8.4 cases per 100,000 live births during 2008–2012, and then increased to 11.6 cases per 100,000 live births in 2014, the highest CS rate reported since 2001. From 2012 to 2014, reported cases and rates of CS increased across all regions of the United States. To reduce CS, the timely identification of and response to increases in syphilis among women of reproductive age and men who have sex with women are essential. All women should have access to quality prenatal care, including syphilis screening and adequate treatment, during pregnancy (3).

MeSH terms

  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / diagnosis
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / ethnology
  • Syphilis, Congenital / epidemiology*
  • Syphilis, Congenital / ethnology
  • Syphilis, Congenital / prevention & control
  • United States / epidemiology