NC syphilis-related neonatal deaths on rise

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has issued a public health alert for congenital syphilis.



Five syphilis-related stillbirth or neonatal deaths in babies have been reported so far in 2023.  None were reported in 2022.

From 2012 to 2022 there was a 547% increase in reported syphilis cases among women with an associated 5600% increase in congenital syphilis infections.

This increase mirrors the national trend as described this week by the Centers for Disease Control

Cases are Rising

Congenital syphilis infections are on the rise in North Carolina and they are PREVENTABLE by early detection and rapid treatment of the mother’s infection.

NCDHHS is working to improve access to testing, as well as community awareness about this growing epidemic, so that pregnant women and the people who love them have access to information and treatment.

North Carolina Case Review Findings

Findings of congenital syphilis cases in North Carolina from 2016 to 2022 indicate infants end up with congenital syphilis when:

  • There is no or late entry of pregnant women into prenatal care.
  • There was prenatal care but incomplete syphilis testing during pregnancy.
  • Mother received delayed, no, or inadequate treatment for her stage of syphilis infection.
  • The exposed newborn was not appropriately evaluated or treated at birth for congenital syphilis.

36% Increase in congenital syphilis cases in 2022

Chart shows an increase in congenital syphilis cases in North Carolina over time, from 1 in 2012 to 57 in 2022, and a continued increase in 2023.

Your Role as a Provider

As a clinician, you play an important role in preventing congenital syphilis. Here’s how you can do your part:



Provider Memo

Congenital Syphilis Resource Page

NCMS: Spike in Syphilis Cases in Newborns Leading to Stepped-Up Prevention Measures

Continued Rise in Female and Congenital Syphilis Infections