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Oklahoma Sees Surge In Syphilis Among Newborns

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Mirroring a nationwide trend, the number of babies born with syphilis is on the rise in Oklahoma.

State health officials say there has been a 283 percent increase in the number of congenital syphilis cases since 2014 in Oklahoma, and a 92 percent increase just from last year.

Congenital syphilis is passed from a mother to baby during pregnancy and can lead to miscarriage, newborn death, and severe physical and neurological problems for the rest of the baby's life. Drug use, poverty and stigma all contribute to the rising numbers, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as funding cuts to STD programs at the state level.

Health officials say women need better access to prenatal care, and doctors need to routinely test for syphilis.

Across the U.S. last year, cases of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia reached an all-time high.

Jackie Fortiér worked for StateImpact Oklahoma from November 2017 to January 2020, reporting on a variety of topics and heading up its health reporting initiative. She has many journalism awards to her name during her years of multi-media reporting in Colorado, and was part of a team recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists with a Sigma Delta Chi award for excellence in breaking news reporting in 2013.
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