900% increase in congenital syphilis cases in Mississippi over five years as trends cause concern countrywide

Pete Lakeman

A very concerning development is raising alarm in the poorest state in the United States poorest state. Congenital syphilis occurs when a mother who has syphilis infects her child during birth. “According to hospital billing data shared with NBC, the number of babies who have been treated for the sexually transmitted disease has increased by more than 900% over five years.”

“This is a frustrating reversal for the US, where determined public health efforts and robust contact-tracing programs had driven congenital syphilis cases to almost historically low numbers just a decade ago.” Doctors that were trained in the 1990s or early 2000s possibly had minimal experience with the disease due to its low incidence. It seems that authorities put the disease on the backburner owing to the apparent success. Consequently, funding for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) fell by more than 40%. Covid pandemic has further aggravated the problem due to understaffing in critical healthcare positions, especially the ones that deal with prenatal care.

“Congenital syphilis can cause a variety of issues in infants, including disfigured bones, severe anemia, enlarged liver and spleen, jaundice, brain and nerve problems such as blindness and deafness, meningitis and skin rashes.” If the mother has been infected for a long time, it can lead to preterm or even stillbirths. It’s disheartening to note that patients on Medicaid had six times more cases than those covered by private insurance or those who paid out of pocket. Although Medicaid requires that testing during the first trimester, repeat testing varies by state.

Disclaimer: This article was written for educational and/or informational purposes only.

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I'm credentialed social studies and biological sciences teacher with over twenty years of classroom experience. I'm an avid gardener and tech DIYer and I love nature walks.

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