Infant Journal
for neonatal and paediatric healthcare professionals

Syphilis: a re-emerging infection with potentially fatal consequences for the neonate

This report discusses a case of a sick newborn who was diagnosed with congenital syphilis. With rising rates of syphilis infection and opportunities for missed antenatal diagnosis, this report aims to remind clinicians of the importance of early diagnosis and treatment of congenital syphilis to prevent serious complications and mortality for the neonate.

Tochi Igboekw
Paediatric ST8

Khalida Yasso
Paediatric ST5

Emily Thomas
Paediatric ST8

Emily Rye
Paediatric ST1

Sally Ogden
Neonatal Consultant

Neonatal Unit, Whiston Hospital, St Helen’s and Knowsley NHS Trust Neonatal Unit, Liverpool Women’s Hospital, Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust

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congenital syphilis; TORCH infection; Treponema pallidum
Key points
  1. A recent report found that rates of congenital syphilis are on the rise for the first time since 2013.
  2. Congenital syphilis infection in the unwell neonate should be suspected despite negative antenatal blood tests, as maternal serology can change during pregnancy.
  3. Prompt diagnosis of congenital syphilis is imperative to prevent long-term morbidity and mortality.

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