What is it?

Congenital syphilis is a condition in which the fetus acquired a chronic infectious disease in the uterus before birth. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum.Some babies born with congenital syphilis present symptoms already at birth, but others do not. Babies who are exposed to syphilis in the uterus can suffer from deformities, developmental delays, rash, seizures, anemia, and jaundice. Congenital syphilis can be classified into early and late forms- depending on the time of symptoms onset. Early syphilis presents between 0-2 years old. Symptomatic newborns (if not stillborn) are born prematurely. Late congenital syphilis symptoms start in children which are older than 2 years old. A frequently-found group of symptoms is Hutchinson's triad, which consists of Hutchinson's teeth (notched incisors), keratitis and deafness

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Signs & symptoms

Congenital syphilis symptoms may include anemia, enlarged spleen and liver, narrowing of the little finger, frontal bossing, enlargement of the sternal end of clavicle, jaundice, lymph node enlargement, mulberry molars, petechiae, poorly developed maxillae, pseudoparalysis, rhagades, snuffles, sabre shins and skin rash.


Diagnosis of congenital syphilis is done by serological testing to both the mother and the baby. If the baby’s IgG antibody titres are significantly higher than the mother’s or IgM antibodies are present, congenital syphilis can be diagnosed. Neurosyphilis can be suggested by pleocytosis, elevated protein level and positive serology in the cerebrospinal fluid.


When a syphilis carrier becomes pregnant, a congenital syphilis may be prevented by treating the mother. If the mother is in the early stages of infection, the fetus is more likely to get infected. A baby with congenital syphilis has to be treated with penicillin as soon as possible.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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