Severe Congenital Syphilis in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit: A Retrospective Case Series.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

BACKGROUND: There has been a 291% relative increase in congenital syphilis (CS) cases in the United States from 2015 to 2019. Although the majority of affected fetuses/infants are stillborn or are asymptomatic, a subset is born with severe clinical illness. We describe a series of severe CS cases in the neonatal intensive care unit. METHODS: Retrospective review of infants with CS, admitted to the Duke Intensive Care Nursery from June 2016 to February 2020. We recorded birthweight, gestational age, medications, procedures, diagnoses, laboratory data and outcomes. Severe symptoms included: birth depression, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), disseminated intravascular coagulopathy and/or persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN). RESULTS: Seven infants with CS were identified and 5 with severe presentations were included. Median gestational age was 35.1 weeks (range: 29-37 weeks, median: 35 weeks). All infants required intubation at birth, 2 required chest compressions and epinephrine in the delivery room. One had hydrops fetalis and died in the delivery room. All 4 surviving infants had HIE, severe PPHN, hepatitis and seizures. All infants had a positive rapid plasma reagin, and were treated with penicillin G. Maternal rapid plasma reagin was pending for 3 of 5 infants at delivery, and later returned positive; 2 were positive during pregnancy but not treated. Other infectious work-up was negative. Three infants survived to discharge. CONCLUSION: CS can be associated with HIE, PPHN and disseminated intravascular coagulopathy in affected infants. Clinicians should have a high index of suspicion and include CS in their differential diagnoses. This study also highlights the importance of adequate treatment of identified cases and screening during the third trimester and at delivery.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Aleem, S; Walker, LS; Hornik, CD; Smith, MJ; Grotegut, CA; Weimer, KED

Published Date

  • April 1, 2022

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 41 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 335 - 339

PubMed ID

  • 34620796

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1532-0987

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1097/INF.0000000000003370


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States