Syphilis is an uncommon sexual transmitted infection caused by the bacteria spirochetes or treponema pallidum.
It also referred to as Lues. Generally, it infects women mostly among sexually active adults aged between 20-29.
Usually you can acquire syphilis infection from sexual contact with an infected person particularly through direct contact with syphilis sore.
Mostly, the sores occur on the external genitals, vagina, anus, or in the rectum. It also occurs on the lips as well as in the mouth.
This infection can also pass to your baby through the placenta during pregnancy. Syphilis that is transmitted to a fetus during pregnancy is called congenital syphilis. It is estimated that about half a million infants are born with congenital syphilis every year worldwide.
If you are with syphilis and became pregnant at any stage of this infection, then the infection can pass to your fetus in the womb any time during your pregnancy through the bloodstream across the placenta.
Your baby may acquire this infection even during delivery. Remember that not all infants born to infected women will be infected. Also, if syphilis is detected and left untreated, then it results in a high risk of a bad outcome of the pregnancy by becoming chronic, transmitting throughout the body.
There is a very high chance that your baby may born with infection, particularly if you’re in the early stages of the disease, the most infectious period.
About two out of five pregnant women with untreated early syphilis end up with a miscarriage, a stillbirth (a baby born dead), premature births, permanent disability baby, disfigured baby or a baby who dies shortly after birth.
However, if your baby is among those that born with syphilis infection then your baby may exhibit no symptoms immediate after birth, but in the first few months your infected baby may typically experience skin rashes or small sores on the body.
Also, the baby may develop lesions around the mouth, genitals, and anus. May have yellowish skin (jaundice), a bloody and running nose, anemia, swollen arms and legs, or severe pneumonia at an early stage of life.
In some rare cases, some of these symptoms may develop at birth and even some other problems, such as enlarged livers and spleens.
If these symptoms are detected and left your baby untreated, then serious physical problems can occur years later, such as bone damage, teeth damage, vision problem, hearing loss, and also neurological problems.
In some cases, your baby can have brain seizures and may experience very late mental growth and slowed physical growth.
That’s why it’s critical for you to be tested for syphilis in the early stages when you become pregnant and if your syphilis is detected then treatment during pregnancy lowers the risk of syphilis in the infant.
Thus, you and your baby will most likely be fine and healthy. But, in any case, if your baby born with syphilis then they need to be fully evaluated and treated as well.