Risk factors for congenital syphilis in infants of women with syphilis in South Carolina

Am J Public Health. 1998 Apr;88(4):597-602. doi: 10.2105/ajph.88.4.597.


Objectives: This study examined risk factors for congenital syphilis in South Carolina.

Methods: Case infants with presumptive and confirmed congenital syphilis were compared with control infants born to women with reactive serologies during pregnancy, allowing investigation of risk factors for congenital rather than acquired transmission of syphilis. Data were collected from congenital syphilis report forms and birth certificates for 186 case infants and 487 controls born from 1991 to 1993. Odds ratios were calculated for maternal risk factors.

Results: Significant statistical trends were found for timing of first prenatal visit and number of visits. Other significant factors included rural residence (odds ratio [OR] = 2.0, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.4, 2.9) and previous pregnancy loss (OR = 0.3, 95% CI = 0.2, 0.6).

Conclusions: Prevention of congenital syphilis may be less effective among pregnant women with syphilis in South Carolina who have fewer prenatal care visits. Health care providers need further education on maternal/child syphilis management and techniques for motivating and educating patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Spontaneous
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Birth Certificates
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious* / epidemiology
  • Prenatal Care
  • Racial Groups
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Risk Factors
  • Rural Population
  • South Carolina / epidemiology
  • Syphilis / transmission
  • Syphilis, Congenital / epidemiology*