Risk Factors for Congenital Syphilis in Infants of Women with Syphilis in South Carolina

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Abstract

Objectives

This study examined risk factors for congenital syphilis in South Carolina.

Methods

Case infants with presumptive and confirmed congenital syphilis were compared with control infants born to women with reactive serologies during pregnancy, allowing investigation of risk factors for congenital rather than acquired transmission of syphilis. Data were collected from congenital syphilis report forms and birth certificates for 186 case infants and 487 controls born from 1991 to 1993. Odds ratios were calculated for maternal risk factors.

Results

Significant statistical trends were found for timing of first prenatal visit and number of visits. Other significant factors included rural residence (odds ratio [OR] = 2.0, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.4, 2.9) and previous pregnancy loss (OR = 0.3, 95% CI = 0.2, 0.6).

Conclusions

Prevention of congenital syphilis may be less effective among pregnant women with syphilis in South Carolina who have fewer prenatal care visits. Health care providers need further education on maternal/child syphilis management and techniques for motivating and educating patients. (Am J Public Health. 1998;88:597-602)

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