What is Congenital Syphilis? Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Congenital syphilis known as (CS) occurs when syphilis is passed from the mother to the child during pregnancy or even during labor or delivery. The infections are known to enter into the baby through the placenta. We all know that syphilis can be fatal to both the mother and the unborn baby.

However, how CS affects the unborn or the New Born baby depends on two factors- the period through which the mother has battled syphilis and if she got treatment within that period.

Congenital syphilis is very serious and can either cause death or stillborn babies. Other complications include:

  • Miscarriage
  • To give birth a baby with low birth weight
  • Giving birth to a premature baby.

Babies affected by this issue are prone to several complications including Deformed bones, enlarged liver, and spleen, low blood cell count, yellowing of skin or jaundice, Brain and nerve problems such as deafness and blindness. They are also likely to get skin rashes, developmental delays, seizures, and meningitis.

The other thing to note is that not all the babies will show the symptoms after birth. In fact, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that only a small number of them will show symptoms. What this means is that if the mother knows that she had battled syphilis within the pregnancy period, the baby should be treated as early as possible. If this condition is left untreated or if the treatment is delayed, it can lead to more serious health problems. If not treated at all, then any kid born of this situation is likely to develop the above-mentioned problems or even die.

Symptoms of Congenital Syphilis

Although this condition is uncommon in most parts of the world, those babies born of mothers with syphilis are likely to experience any or all of the below mentioned symptoms.

  • Severe sequelae
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Hearing loss
  • Musculoskeletal Deformity

Symptoms for congenital Syphilis may not become apparent until several weeks and in some other situations may take even years to appear. Some more symptoms for this case include:

  • Fever
  • Skin problems
  • Low birth weight
  • Blunted upper Incisor teeth
  • Interstitial keratitis also was known as inflammation of the cornea
  • Deafness
  • Saddle nose or collapse of the bony part of the nose.
  • Swollen knees
  • Short Maxillae
  • Protruding Mandible

There are also some dental issues which are associated with this condition called, bud molars, mulberry molars, moon’s molars, and Hutchinson’s incisors.

Causes of Congenital syphilis

As I had already stated, congenital syphilis is passed from the mother to the baby either during the pregnancy, during the labor or even during birth. This is the main and the only known way that an unborn baby can get this condition. If not transmitted from the mother to the kid, then this problem wouldn’t be a concern. However, mothers are likely to get syphilis from having a sexual intercourse with an infected person.

Congenital syphilis is caused by the Spiroche tetreponema pallidum and transmitted from the mother to the fetus in the womb. As I had already stated, adults transmit syphilis through sex.


In this case, the mother and the baby are passed through a sophisticated level of diagnosis to determine the extent of the disease. The mother and the kid are passed through a Serological test. If the neonatal IgG antibody titers are significantly higher than the mother’s then the doctor confirms the existence of congenital syphilis.


If the mother is reported to have syphilis, then appropriate measures can be taken to prevent the spread of the infections to the baby. If the mother is treated before the sixtieth week of the pregnancy, then it can prevent congenital syphilis from developing in the uterus.

The fetus is at greater risk if the situation is left untreated past sixteen weeks of pregnancy. However, you should note that this disease can be passed to the unborn baby at any stage of pregnancy. And for this reason, you should at all cost get to the doctor immediately you think you have any of syphilis symptoms.

One of the best treatment for this condition on either the parent or the baby is penicillin. There are some antibodies that can also be used to treat congenital syphilis. In the case of interstitial keratitis, it can be created by administering corticosteroid drugs and atropine drops. If you detect that there’s likelihood for this condition, then take swift actions and consult an ophthalmologist. The other thing is that a combination of penicillin and corticosteroids may be prescribed to solve nerve deafness.


There’s no better way of treating any disease than accepting you have it and consulting a doctor for advice and treatment.

I hope this article has helped you in understand the condition thoroughly.

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