April 15, 2024
A woman holds a child's hand.

US doctors are desperate

Kill fast: syphilis in newborns becomes an epidemic

07/13/2023, 21:16

| Reading time: 4 minutes

A woman holds a child's hand.

A woman holds a child’s hand.

Photo: Sebastian Gollnow/dpa/Symbolbild

Syphilis continues to spread across the United States. And it hits hardest those who are least able to do without it: newborns.

Thirty years after the global AIDS pandemic, another sexually transmitted disease is on the rise in the United States: Syphilismore precisely “congenital” or “congenital syphilis”, which arises from infants who were infected in the womb.

Doctors are frustrated. They consider most diseases to be preventable – through timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment of the infection, which in adults is more common through unprotected people relationship is transferred. However, many people, including pregnant women, overlook the need for early diagnosis because there are often no symptoms that would indicate an infection.

Syphilis in children: symptoms are lifelong

Sidney J. turns six today. The happy girl with blond curls and a big smile would hardly have survived her birth in late summer 2016. She could hardly breathe because her lungs had filled with mucus. When doctors diagnosed syphilisInfection determined, they gave the baby a maximum of four weeks. Once diagnosed, she was promptly transferred to a NICU and treated with intravenous antibiotics for two weeks. Also interesting: Contraception is also a matter for men – such methods exist

The little girl, now living the normal life of a first grader who has just started school, doesn’t quite understand what torments her. However, she always suffers. Sydney suffers Sore throat, fever, swollen lymph nodes and extreme tiredness, which is unusual for an otherwise vivacious child of her age. Doctors have also warned her parents that their offspring can expect to have lifelong symptoms Infection it could come back and it cannot be ruled out that the disease affects their nerves or vision in adulthood.

As annoying as the symptoms are, Sidney is still in luck. Many babies born with “congenital syphilis” live only a few weeks. According to the US federal health authority National Institutes of Health (NIH), the number of children born with the infection has increased sevenfold in the past decade and the trend is still increasing.

Read also: Monkey Pox – An infected person’s nose starts to rot

This in turn drives Dr. Robert McDonald, director of STDs at the NIH, to despair. “The increase in the number of cases is really annoying, because if it’s timely Treatment it should never have happened to these poor children,” says McDonald. “It’s just about informing pregnant women of the necessary tests at an early stage and reacting accordingly if they become infected.”

A statutory one Syphilis screening for pregnant women, which exists in Germany, does not exist in all US states. However, if screening is done at least 30 days before delivery and the mother is treated with penicillin — if positive — “then the likelihood of the mother passing the carrier bacterium Treponema pallidum to her baby drops by 98 percent,” McDonald says. Otherwise there is a risk of premature birth or even stillbirth, and even late damage is possible, emphasizes the doctor.

STDs continue to spread due to lack of education

Most of the disease is found in the poorer southern states United States of America discovered where patient care often leaves much to be desired. In Mississippi alone, the number of newborns with syphilis skyrocketed by 3,300 percent and in Oklahoma by 3,000 percent between 2016 and 2021. In several other states, infections have increased more than tenfold over the same period.

Experts call the reasons for this a lack of information for pregnant women Women. However, it is also problematic that government health programs are not doing enough to prevent and treat the disease Venereal illnesses invested.

As a study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) revealed, the funds that were poured into the Research and treatment flows for sexually transmitted diseases decreased by 40%. During the corona pandemic, public funds previously used to combat syphilis were also reallocated to the development of vaccines and drugs against the corona virus.

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