If a syphilis test comes back positive, then an FTA (Free Treponemal Antibody) test is performed. If this test is positive, then syphilis is officially diagnosed.
When a woman is pregnant, the only medicine she can take for syphilis is penicillin. If she weren’t pregnant, she could be treated with other medications.
Why it’s important: Syphilis can lead to preterm labor or even death. Syphilis can also affect the baby’s growth and cause congenital anomalies. In the early part of the 20th century (1900s), 40% of all baby’s deaths were related to syphilis, but in recent times syphilis has rarely been identified as a cause of death. However, because of the increase in syphilis in the U.S., increased surveillance is recommended. In the past decade alone, maternal and congenital syphilis has increased several folds in the U.S. The infection can occur during any trimester of pregnancy. Overall, untreated syphilis can be transmitted to the fetus or embryo in pregnancy, causing serious problems with the baby, including death.