Syphilis in pregnancy: epidemiology, diagnostics and treatment. Literature overview


Rūta Palionytė1

1Lithuanian Health Research Center


Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by Treponema pallidum subspecies pallidum (T.pallidum). Primarily it clinical manifests with local inflammatory reactions caused by the growth of replicating spirochetes. Later bacteria damages internal organs and nervous system. If the patient does not come for medical advice during the early symptoms of the disease, later the diagnosis of syphilis may be delayed by a long latent period, during which there are no signs of infection, except positive serological blood parameters.

Syphilis infection is usually passed through sexual contact. A pregnant woman can infect a fetus through the placenta or during delivery. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1.9 mln. pregnant women in 2013 were infected with syphilis, more than half of them had adverse outcomes embryos, fetuses or neonates in untreated syphilis. Congenital infection of the baby can cause various congenital anomalies and long-term late consequences.

To prevent cases of perinatal, neonatal deaths and congenital syphilis infections, it is necessary to screen all pregnant women. It can be done by using tests of blood serological reactions. Early diagnosed syphilis can be easily treated with a single dose of long-acting penicillin. According to various authors, more than a third of pregnant women treated with penicillin antibiotics may experience an adverse Jarisch–Herxheimer reaction. In this article, we will look at the possibilities of syphilis screening and treatment in pregnancy.

Keywords: syphilis in pregnancy, syphilis treatment, sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy.