Congenital syphilis is an infection transmitted from pregnant person to child during pregnancy and/or delivery caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. Congenital syphilis can cause severe illness in infants including premature birth, low birth weight, birth defects, blindness, and hearing loss. It can also lead to stillbirth and infant death. Tests and treatment for pregnant people are readily available.
Over the last several years, California has experienced a steep increase in syphilis among females and congenital syphilis. From 2012 to 2018, female syphilis cases increased nearly 550% and congenital syphilis cases increased nearly 900%, from 33 cases in 2012 to 329 cases in 2018. In 2018, most congenital syphilis cases were reported from Central and Southern California; however an increasing number of counties throughout California are reporting their first congenital syphilis case in years. Most pregnant females who gave birth to infants with congenital syphilis received prenatal care late in pregnancy or not at all.