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Pregnancy Problems

During pregnancy, your health is number one priority. That’s why we went straight to top pregnancy health experts for all the details you want to know about the most common pregnancy problems. In our pregnancy problems guide, you can read about a slew of pregnancy conditions – everything from hemorrhoids to gestational diabetes. Find out what any pregnancy symptom could possibly mean (are you swollen just because you’re expecting, or is it a sign of some complication?) and find out whether or not it’s worth a call to your OB. If you already know you’ve got a pregnancy complication or health condition, our comprehensive articles will give you the scoop on its causes and how it can affect you and baby. Plus, get treatment tips straight from medical experts and pregnant women like you. Yup, we've got answers to all your questions about pregnancy health problems right here!

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Syphilis During Pregnancy

Answers to all your questions about syphilis during pregnancy, including how to treat is safely -- and avoid harm to baby.

What is syphilis during pregnancy?

Syphilis is a highly treatable sexually transmitted disease (STD). Untreated syphilis can lead to illness and death in women and their babies, so it’s important to catch it early.

What are the signs of syphilis during pregnancy?

The first sign of syphilis is a sore known as a chancre that generally pops up within 10 to 90 days of infection. It’s usually round, small and painless, so it’s not always noticeable. The sore normally heals without treatment. In the secondary stage, an infected woman may develop a rash, fever, fatigue and swollen glands. Then, the symptoms go away, and a latent stage -- a period of no symptoms -- begins. The latent stage can last for years and years and lead to serious illness.

Are there any tests for syphilis during pregnancy?

Yep. A simple blood test can detect the presence of syphilis. Because syphilis can be so harmful during pregnancy, all pregnant moms are screened for syphilis in the first and third trimester.

How common is syphilis during pregnancy?

Not very. Less than 1,000 pregnant women a year in the US are found to have syphilis.

How did I get syphilis?

Syphilis is transmitted by sexual contact, so your partner (or a past partner) passed it to you.

How will syphilis affect my baby?

Syphilis can be passed to your baby during pregnancy or at birth. It increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and death after birth. Babies with a syphilis infection can look completely normal at birth but develop skin sores, jaundice, fevers, rashes and developmental delays. Untreated syphilis can cause death (see Next Page for treatments).

-- Rebecca Kolp, MD, ob-gyn and medical director at Massachusetts General Hospital West


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