The rate of babies born with syphilis is rising in Louisiana, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC found the rate of congenital syphilis rose by 6% nationwide between 2014 and 2015. Director of the Bureau of Infectious Diseases for the Office of Public Health, Dr. DeAnn Gruber, says the problem is even worse in Louisiana.
“When we look at our population and then the number of infants, we are number one in the country compared to all other states,” Gruber said.
According to the CDC, 83 out of every 100,000 babies born has congenital syphilis. Gruber says her office is doing everything they can to reduce these rates. She says in 2014 the legislature passed a law that requires women to get tested for diseases throughout their pregnancies, not just in the first trimester.
“We are identifying women who may not have been infected in the first trimester, but then they are infected by the time they deliver their baby. They then hopefully have adequate time to get the treatment that’s needed,” Gruber said.
Gruber says babies born with syphilis can have complications and various types of disabilities. She says the Office of Public Health is doing interventions, provider outreach, and education to decrease the rate of congenital syphilis, and it looks like their methods are paying off.
“In fact, now we’re seeing for the year of 2016 we’re hopeful that for the first time in several years, we’re going to see the number decrease,” Gruber said.