A transmission electron micrograph of Treponema pallidum, the bacteria that causes syphilis.
Credit: Richard J. Green / Science Source

Congenital syphilis has become more than ten times as common over the past decade, the C.D.C. reported. “The situation is dire,” said one expert.

The rise in sexually transmitted infections in the United States has taken a particularly tragic turn: More than 3,700 cases of congenital syphilis were reported in 2022, roughly 11 times the number recorded a decade ago, according to data released on Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Syphilis during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage and stillbirth, and infants who survive may become blind or deaf, or have severe developmental delays. In 2022, the disease caused 231 stillbirths and 51 infant deaths.

Nearly 90 percent of the new cases could have been prevented with timely testing and treatment, according to the agency.

“Syphilis in babies continues to increase, and the situation is dire,” Dr. Laura Bachmann, chief medical officer at the agency’s division for prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, said […]

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