1800 Mt. Vernon Avenue
Bakersfield, CA 93306-3302
April 7, 2016
Babies Born With Syphilis on Rise in Kern County
Public Relations Officer
Bakersfield – An increasing number of Kern County women are contracting syphilis and passing it on to their babies. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease, and you can be infected without noticing any symptoms and therefore pass it to others without knowing it. Syphilis can also be transmitted to babies by an infected mother, which is referred to as congenital syphilis. Congenital syphilis is often fatal or can have major health impacts on babies such as deformed bones, severe anemia, meningitis, and skin rashes. As many as 40% of babies born to women with untreated syphilis are stillborn or die from the infection as a newborn, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Congenital syphilis cases have increased exponentially over the past three years and Kern County’s rates are 500% higher than the State average. In 2015, there were 28 cases of congenital syphilis in Kern County and 6 of those cases resulted in death. Kern County has higher rates of congenital syphilis than any other county in California.
Congenital syphilis is preventable. Pregnant women should get early prenatal care and have their doctor test them for syphilis. In most cases, syphilis is easily treated with antibiotics and pregnant women who test positive should receive treatment right away. “If you are pregnant, or think you may be, get prenatal care as soon as possible,” says Matt Constantine, Director of Kern County Public Health Services Department. “These senseless tragedies are completely preventable.”
If you have questions about syphilis symptoms, testing, and/or treatment contact the Kern County Public Health Services Department at (661) 321-3000 or email us at askSTDclinic@co.kern.ca.us. The Public Health Services Department’s clinic offers low-cost, high quality care Monday – Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. An appointment is recommended but walk-ins are also accepted.