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Sex Transm Dis. 2010 Jan;37(1):26-31. doi: 10.1097/OLQ.0b013e3181b3915b.

Congenital syphilis: an economic evaluation of a prevention program in China.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology and STD, Shenzhen Center for Chronic Disease Control and Prevention, Shenzhen, China.



Until now there has been no data to show the effectiveness or benefits of screening for syphilis in gravidas in China. This study was to assess the effectiveness of a program preventing mother-to-child-transmission of syphilis and to reveal factors impacting the benefit.


A cohort of 159,017 gravidas were screened for syphilis by serologic methods and infected individuals were treated with 3 injections of 2.4 million units of benzathine penicillin in Shenzhen in 2005. The pregnancy outcomes were compared for this cost-effectiveness analysis in 2 scenarios, intervention with screening and treatment versus no intervention.


Eight hundred twenty-seven pregnant women (0.52%) were diagnosed with syphilis and treated subsequently. Of these, 200 gestations ended in miscarriage. Four babies were diagnosed with congenital syphilis; 25 neonates with low birth weight; 1 died after birth. The total cost was $636,748. On average, every $770 identified 1 infected mother. Every $4391 prevented 1 congenital syphilis; every $5135 prevented 1 low birth weight; and every $7075 prevented 1 death. One disability adjusted life year could be saved by $215. In total the program reached a benefit to cost ratio of 21.76. Sensitivity analyses revealed that this ratio was mainly impacted by the prevalence of syphilis in pregnant women and the rate of miscarriage.


Screening for antenatal syphilis combined with intervening during gestation is highly effective in China. Reducing the percentage of spontaneous/induced abortion would be one of the most effective methods of further increasing the benefits of this screening.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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