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Protect your baby from syphillis – 3 reasons why you should take it seriously

Dr. Akin-Onitolo A.



Too many parents do not realize how dangerous syphillis can be for their babies. When a mom is infected, there is a huge chance of her baby becoming infected with its attendant problems. Infection occurs because it is transmitted via the placenta to the baby. Often, the mom is infected during pregnancy and then there are 3 possible scenarios:
[A] Stillbirths

In approximately one third of women affected, it leads to miscarriage and stillbirth.

[B] Congenital syphillis

This occurs in the newborn causing runny nose, rash, swelling of the liver and spleen, hydrops (accumulation of fluid in the baby’s body and lungs), low blood level, jaundice, kidney issues, meningitis, problems with the ears (deafness caused by damage to the nerve that coordinates hearing), and damage to the eyes.

[C] Long-term problems

Consequences of the damage done to the baby’s delicate organs follow, such as deafness, mental retardation, and poor teeth.
Thank goodness that syphilis is now routinely screened for among pregnant mothers during antenatal hospital visits. But there is still a significant number of women who skip antenatal care and thus, put their babies at risk.

For an infection that is readily treated with penicillin injection, syphilis should not even affect innocent unborn babies and newborns anymore. Anticipating moms and dads need to be aware and ensure they are screened for syphilis before it gets the chance to cause preventable damage.

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Have you had syphilis before? Or are you pregnant and wondering how to get tested for syphilis? Ask us. Tell us all about it.


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Dr. Akin-onitolo A. is a graduate of the University of Lagos whose mission is to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs) using health promotion and improved health literacy. She is an MDCN (Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria) certified doctor who had her elective at King's College London. Hugely interested in travel, meeting people and generally being creative, reading and writing fiction are a few hobbies you could find her engaged in during her spare time. Catch up with her on Twitter @Akinonitolo and Instagram @t_onitolo