Syphilis Screening May Reduce Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes

Congenital screening interventions may reduce incidence of perinatal death and stillbirth

THURSDAY, June 16 (HealthDay News) -- Screening interventions may reduce the incidence of perinatal death and stillbirth attributed to syphilis, according to a review published online June 16 in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

Sarah Hawkes, Ph.D., from University College London, and colleagues reviewed available literature to assess the efficacy of screening interventions for preventing congenital syphilis and other adverse pregnancy outcomes. Data were extracted from 10 studies from four electronic databases.

The investigators found two studies that were designed to encourage women to ask for care earlier in their pregnancies. The decentralization of screening and treatment was included in nine studies. There were inconsistent results for the effects of the interventions on the uptake of testing for antenatal syphilis and receiving at least one dose of penicillin. Three studies showed a correlation between interventions and a reduction in perinatal death (pooled risk ratio [RR] from three studies, 0.46) and stillbirth (pooled RR from three studies, 0.42). Based on four studies that measured the incidence of congenital syphilis, the incidence was reduced, but with heterogeneity between the results.

"Interventions to improve the coverage and effect of screening programs for antenatal syphilis could reduce the syphilis-attributable incidence of stillbirth and perinatal death by 50 percent," the authors write.

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