U.S. : Mississippi sees 900% increase in newborns treated for syphilis

In Mis­sis­sip­pi, the num­ber of new­borns being treat­ed for con­gen­i­tal syphilis increas­es by more than 900% in five years, under­min­ing progress by the nation’s poor­est states in elim­i­nat­ing what experts say is a pre­ventable pub­lic health crisis.

It is In the state, which already has one of the worst infant mor­tal­i­ty rates in the nation, the increased num­ber of cas­es puts new­borns at greater risk of being fatal­ly injured.

In 2021, 102 new­borns in Mis­sis­sip­pi will be treat­ed for sex­u­al­ly trans­mit­ted infec­tions, up from 10 in 2016, con­firm­ing the med­ical focus on sex­u­al­ly trans­mit­ted infec­tions at the Mis­sis­sip­pi Depart­ment of Health’s Cross­roads Clin­ic (Jack­son).

An analy­sis of hos­pi­tal billing data shared by direc­tor Dr. Thomas Dobbs reveals.

For­mer state health offi­cial Dobbs said he spoke with med­ical per­son­nel who were “absolute­ly hor­ri­fied” that babies were born with the dis­ease and, in rare cas­es, died from it.

“It seems like this should have hap­pened 100 years ago, not last year,” said Dobbs, who is also dean of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mis­sis­sip­pi Med­ical Cen­ter. “I’m real­ly shocked”

The Mis­sis­sip­pi Depart­ment of Health has not offi­cial­ly tracked deaths from con­gen­i­tal syphilis, but said at least one baby died in 2021.

Con­gen­i­tal syphilis is caused by trans­mis­sion from a preg­nant moth­er to her child. If a preg­nant woman with syphilis is left untreat­ed, there is an 80% chance that she will pass syphilis to her baby.

Babies infect­ed with syphilis may have no symp­toms at first, but com­pli­ca­tions can become seri­ous if they are not treat­ed with­in the first 3 months of life. Syphilis can dam­age your baby’s organs. The dis­ease can affect a child’s ner­vous sys­tem and cause vision and hear­ing loss. In the most severe cas­es, new­borns die.

The 2021 num­bers Dobbs spoke about are the lat­est indi­ca­tors of a grow­ing con­gen­i­tal syphilis prob­lem in Mis­sis­sip­pi and across the nation. Pre­lim­i­nary data from the U.S. Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion shows that the num­ber of cas­es nation­wide will more than dou­ble, from 941 in 2017 to at least 2,677 in 2021.

In Mis­sis­sip­pi, the Depart­ment of Health has not released final fig­ures for 2021 (based on cas­es report­ed direct­ly to the state by clin­i­cians), but pre­lim­i­nary fig­ures are based on insur­ance claim codes Dobbs found. state epi­demi­ol­o­gist Paul Byers, M.D.

The resur­gence also shows that racial dis­par­i­ties in the state have exist­ed since day one. In 2020, black new­borns account­ed for 70% of the state’s con­gen­i­tal syphilis cas­es, even though they account­ed for about 42% of the state’s births. In a state­ment, Byers said he expect­ed a sim­i­lar dis­par­i­ty in the final state data for 2021.

Con­gen­i­tal syphilis can be pre­vent­ed by giv­ing the moth­er an injec­tion of peni­cillin one month before birth. Babies often have to be hos­pi­tal­ized for the first two weeks of life for intra­venous peni­cillin if the moth­er is not prop­er­ly treated.

A grow­ing num­ber of Mis­sis­sip­pi moth­ers and their chil­dren are not get­ting treat­ment in time.

Some coun­ties in the state do not have obste­tri­cians, and preg­nant res­i­dents have to trav­el to seek care.

Depend­ing on the job, tak­ing time off from work will reduce your income, and unsta­ble trans­porta­tion can make it dif­fi­cult to make appointments.

And many expec­tant moth­ers in Mis­sis­sip­pi have to wait weeks for their first pre­na­tal vis­it. Last year, it took an aver­age of about a month to be approved for pub­lic health insur­ance through Med­ic­aid, which cov­ers most preg­nan­cies in the state.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.