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Obstetrics and Gynecology International
Volume 2010, Article ID 312798, 6 pages
Review Article

A Road Map for the Global Elimination of Congenital Syphilis

1Division of STD Prevention (DSTDP), International Activities Unit, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1600 Clifton Rd, NE, MS E-02, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA
2Department of Reproductive Health and Research, World Health Organization (WHO), Geneva, Switzerland
3Division of Global HIV/AIDS, CDC, Atlanta, GA, USA
4University College London, London, UK

Received 2 December 2009; Accepted 21 May 2010

Academic Editor: Sean Blackwell

Copyright © 2010 Mary L. Kamb et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Congenital syphilis is the oldest recognized congenital infection, and continues to account for extensive global perinatal morbidity and mortality today. Serious adverse pregnancy outcomes caused by maternal syphilis infection are prevented with screening early in pregnancy and prompt treatment of women testing positive. Intramuscular penicillin, an inexpensive antibiotic on the essential medicine list of nations all over the world, effectively cures infection and prevents congenital syphilis. In fact, at a cost of $ 11–15 per disability adjusted life year (DALY) averted, maternal syphilis screening and treatment is among the most cost-effective public health interventions in existence. Yet implementation of this basic public health intervention is sporadic in countries with highest congenital syphilis burden. We discuss the global burden of this devastating disease, current progress and ongoing challenges for its elimination in countries with highest prevalence, and next steps in ensuring a world free of preventable perinatal deaths caused by syphilis.