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J Infect Dis. 2002 Oct 1;186(7):940-7. Epub 2002 Sep 3.

Syphilis in pregnancy in Tanzania. I. Impact of maternal syphilis on outcome of pregnancy.

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  • 1Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom. deborah.watson-jones@lshtm.ac.uk


To measure the impact of maternal syphilis on pregnancy outcome in the Mwanza Region of Tanzania, 380 previously unscreened pregnant women were recruited into a retrospective cohort at delivery and tested for syphilis. Stillbirth was observed in 18 (25%) of 73 women with high-titer active syphilis (i.e., women with a rapid plasma reagin titer > or = 1 :8 and a positive Treponema pallidum hemagglutination assay or indirect fluorescent treponemal antibody test result), compared with 3 (1%) of 233 uninfected women (risk ratio [RR], 18.1; P<.001). Women with high-titer active syphilis were also at the greatest risk of having low-birth-weight or preterm live births (RR, 3.0 and 6.1, respectively), compared with women with other serological stages of syphilis. Among unscreened women, 51% of stillbirths, 24% of preterm live births, and 17% of all adverse pregnancy outcomes were attributable to maternal syphilis. Syphilis continues to be a major cause of pregnancy loss and adverse pregnancy outcome among women who do not receive antenatal syphilis screening and treatment.

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