Pregnant women with syphilis can pass the disease to their developing baby, and for many babies in the womb, the outcome is death. But a simple screening test and treatment could be a cheap way to cut such stillbirths and deaths, British scientists reported Thursday.
That study holds immense promise, especially for women in the developing world. Another new study related to stillbirths -- and the potential risk based on maternal sleeping position -- is much less conclusive.
In the first report, an analysis of 10 studies, researchers concluded that offering screening and treatment for syphilis could cut stillbirths and early neonatal deaths by more than half.
Screening costs less than $1.50, according to this Reuters article, and a syphilis infection can be treated with penicillin.
About 2.1 million pregnant women have syphilis, mostly in low- and middle-income countries; without treatment, about two in three will have a late abortion, stillbirth, neonatal death, premature or low-weight baby or an infant infected with syphilis.