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J Med Assoc Thai. 2005 Nov;88(11):1519-25.

Outcome of maternal syphilis at Rajavithi Hospital on offsprings.

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Neonatal Unit, Department of Pediatrics, Queen Sirikit National Institute of Child Health, Bangkok 10400, Thailand.



Syphilis remains an important sexually transmitted disease and continues to be an important problem in Thailand. Despite the clinical efficiency of penicillin in the treatment of pregnant patients with syphilis, infants with congenital syphilis are still encountered. Congenital syphilis poses significant challenges for the clinician because infants may be asymptomatic at birth or present with a highly variable clinical picture.


To evaluate the outcomes of neonates born to syphilitic mothers, the efficacy of antepartum treatment in the prevention of congenital syphilis and treatment for congenital syphilis after delivery.


The surveillance conducted from September 1st, 2002 to December 31st, 2003, involved 63 mothers who were diagnosed with syphilis and their offsprings at Rajavithi Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand. Sixty-four infants had complete physical examination, growth, development and laboratory evaluation at Queen Sirikit National Institute of Child Health at the time of delivery and at the ages of 1, 2, 4 and 6 months.


There were 63 mothers and 64 infants recruited in the present study. Fifty-three mothers had prenatal care (84.13%). The VDRL was positive in the first prenatal care visit in 42 mothers (66.67%) and 11 mothers (17.46%) had seroconversion later on. Maternal treatment for syphilis included adequate penicillin 23 cases (36.51%), inadequate penicillin 5 cases (7.94%), erythromycin 9 cases (14.29%) and 26 mothers (41.27%) received no treatment at all. The mean maternal age, mean gestation age at treatment for syphilis and at delivery were 30.31 +/- 5.60 years, 32.75 +/- 6. 73 weeks and 38.60 +/- 1.57 weeks respectively. Failure rate in the adequate penicillin group was 8.7%. The mean birth weight of the 64 infants was 3034 +/- 495 grams, no syphilitic stillbirth occurred. Nine infants (14.06%) were identified with presumptive congenital syphilis. The manifestation include hepatomegaly (55.56%), desquamation of palms and soles (44.44%), radiological changes (33.33%) and abnormal cerebrospinal fluid (25%). The fluorescent treponemal antibody absorption immunoglobulin M (FTA-ABS IgM) tests of the infants were positive in 2 out of 9 cases (22.22%). The range of maternal and neonatal VDRL titer were between weakly reactive to 1.32 and nonreactive to 1:32 respectively. Fifty infants (78.13%) including 9 presumptive cases were followed-up, all had normal growth. Thirty-four infants (68%) who had re-evaluation for VDRL titers, were seronegative.


Penicillin is the effective treatment of pregnant patients with syphilis and infants with congenital syphilis. The high risk of congenital syphilis correlates with untreated mothers and inadequate maternal syphilis treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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