The Associated Press
Created: January 11, 2020 01:49 PM
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — State health officials are ordering physicians and other medical professionals in New Mexico to step up screening of pregnant women for syphilis.
A statewide public health order issued Friday is intended to prevent prevent congenital syphilis, a disease that occurs when a mother with sexually transmitted syphilis passes the infection on to her baby during pregnancy, the Department of Health said Friday in a statement.
According to the state agency, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that congenital syphilis has increased annually in the United States since 2012, resulting in severe health complications and deaths among newborns.
New Mexico has the eighth-highest rate of congenital syphilis cases, the department said.
There were 23 cases in New Mexico in 2018 as of Dec. 30, up from 10 in 2017, including two that resulted in deaths, the department said.
Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel said congenital syphilis is preventable with screening and treatment of pregnant women and that the order will make testing part of standard prenatal care provided to patients.
Under the order, medical professionals must test all pregnant women in their first and third trimesters and again at delivery, the department said.
Many people with syphilis do not have any symptoms or the symptoms may be very mild and similar to those of other health problems, the department said. “The only way for anyone to know for sure if they have syphilis is to get tested.”
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