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Congenital lues; Fetal syphilis
Congenital syphilis is a severe, disabling, and often life-threatening infection seen in infants. A pregnant mother who has syphilis can spread the disease through the placenta to the unborn infant.
Congenital syphilis is caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum, which is passed from mother to child during fetal development or at birth. Nearly half of all children infected with syphilis while they are in the womb die shortly before or after birth.
Despite the fact that this disease can be cured with antibiotics if caught early, rising rates of syphilis among pregnant women in the United States have increased the number of infants born with congenital syphilis.
Wolff T, Shelton E, Sessions C, Miler T. Screening for syphilis infection in pregnant women: Evidence for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Reaffirmation Recommendation Statement. Ann Intern Med. 2009;150:710-716.
Workowski KA, Berman SM. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Congenital syphilis. Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines 2006. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2006;55(RR-11):30-33.
Azimi P. Syphilis (Treponema pallidum). In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2007:chap 215.
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