/How does syphilis affect a pregnant woman and her baby?

The syphilis bacterium can infect the baby of a woman during her pregnancy. Depending on how long a pregnant woman has been infected, she may have a high risk of having a stillbirth (a baby born dead) or of giving birth to a baby who dies shortly after birth.

An infected baby may be born without signs or symptoms of disease. However, if not treated immediately, the baby may develop serious problems within a few weeks. Untreated babies may become developmentally delayed, have seizures, or die.

Since 2009, the State of Nevada requires that pregnant women are screened for syphilis during their first and third trimesters.

Testing in both first and third trimester will improve the chances of diagnosing and treating pregnant women with syphilis, which may reduce or eliminate the infection spreading to the fetus and reduce or avoid the related complications.