Prevalence of syphilis infection in Mozambican women with second trimester miscarriage and women attending antenatal care in second trimester

Genitourin Med. 1993 Dec;69(6):431-3. doi: 10.1136/sti.69.6.431.


Objectives: To elucidate whether recent syphilis infection is significantly more prevalent among women with mid-trimester miscarriage than among antenatal care attenders in midtrimester pregnancy.

Design: Two categories of pregnant women were compared regarding serological signs of syphilis. Rapid Plasma Reagin (RPR) analyses were done in Mozambique and Veneral Disease Research Laboratory (VDRL) tests in Sweden. In case of RPR and/or VDRL positivity, Treponema pallidum haemagglutination (TPHA) and Captia Syphilis-M were performed.

Setting: A suburban antenatal care clinic and the emergency ward at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Central Hospital in Maputo, Mozambique, were studied June-August 1991.

Subjects: Randomly selected women seeking antenatal care in midtrimester pregnancy (N = 202) were compared with 114 women consecutively entering with clinical signs of midtrimester miscarriage.

Results: Among antenatal care attenders, 37/202 (18.3%), and among women with midtrimester miscarriage, 37/114 (32.5%), had syphilis confirmed with the Treponema pallidum haemagglutination test (p < 0.01). Significant titres of IgM antibodies tended to be more prevalent among women with miscarriage (7.0%) than among women attending antenatal care (4.5%), though the difference only approached statistical significance.

Conclusion: The findings suggest a potential association between syphilis seropositivity and midtrimester miscarriage. Present findings justify more extensive studies to establish whether or not recent syphilis infection is a risk factor for midtrimester miscarriage.

PIP: During June-August 1991 in Mozambique, obstetricians and bacteriologists compared the results of laboratory tests for Treponema pallidum of 114 women entering Maputo Central Hospital with clinical signs of second trimester spontaneous abortion with those of 202 pregnant women in the second trimester who sought prenatal care at a suburban prenatal clinic (Primeiro de Maio). They wanted to learn whether a recent syphilis infection was much more common among women with second trimester miscarriage than among pregnant women in the second trimester who seek prenatal case. 4.5% of the prenatal care group and 7% of the miscarriage group had immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies, indicating a recent syphilis infection. The difference between the 2 groups was not significant. The Treponema pallidum hemagglutination test detected a higher prevalence of syphilis in the miscarriage group than in the prenatal care group (32.5% vs. 18.3%; p 0.01), however. All but 1 of the seronegative women had normal pregnancy outcomes. 27% of the women with locally diagnosed seroreactive syphilis did not receive treatment. The findings indicate a possible link between syphilis seropositivity and midtrimester spontaneous abortion.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Spontaneous / immunology
  • Abortion, Spontaneous / microbiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin M / analysis
  • Mozambique / epidemiology
  • Parity
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Second
  • Prenatal Care*
  • Syphilis / complications
  • Syphilis / epidemiology*
  • Syphilis / immunology


  • Immunoglobulin M