Syphilis remains a common congenital infection over the globe. There has been a tremendous rise in the number of congenital syphilis cases worldwide in the last 20 years. It affects large numbers of pregnant mothers in high burden regions causing a significantly high perinatal mortality and morbidity, which can be easily prevented by early antenatal screening and treatment.
Diagnosis of maternal syphilis in pregnancy mainly based on clinical symptoms, serological tests and direct identification of treponemes in clinical samples. However, the diagnosis can be challenging due to the relapsing-remitting nature of the disease. The early stage of the infection is usually symptomatic which is commonly followed by an asymptomatic latent phase but infectious and as a result serological tests will be positive. The risk of transplacental transmission is high during the second and third trimester.
Obstetric complications of syphilis include spontaneous miscarriage, non-immune hydrops, stillbirth, preterm labour, low birth weight, increased neonatal mortality and congenital syphilis among neonates.
Penicillin is the drug of choice for treatment and should be commenced immediately. Babies born to mothers with syphilis should also be treated with penicillin. Early detection and prompt intervention are the key to the prevention and successful control of congenital syphilis. The aim of this review is to highlight the impact of syphilis infection on pregnancy and discuss the current trends in diagnosis and management of maternal and congenital syphilis.
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Published online: February 01, 2021
Accepted: January 8, 2021
Received in revised form: December 28, 2020
Received: October 29, 2020
© 2021 Published by Elsevier B.V.