To evaluate congenital syphilis surveillance in Minnesota, to assess the evaluation and management of newborns at risk for congenital syphilis, and to assess prenatal syphilis screening.
Case ascertainment and medical record review.
The 7-county Minneapolis–St Paul metropolitan area.
Newborns at risk for congenital syphilis during a 3-year period (1992-1994).
Main Outcome Measures
The completeness of congenital syphilis case ascertainment, maternal demographic data, maternal syphilis management, newborn evaluation for and management of congenital syphilis, and hospital syphilis screening practices at delivery.
Eighty mother-infant pairs who were at risk for congenital syphilis were identified from 3 sources. Using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's congenital syphilis case definition, 36 infants (45%) were classified as probable cases, 42 (53%) were classified as noncases, and 2 (3%) were syphilitic stillbirths. Forty-seven women (59%) had syphilis serologic tests performed in the third trimester; only 37 (46%) had syphilis screening at delivery. Conditions of the mothers of 8 probable cases (22%) were diagnosed at delivery. Most probable cases (86%) were evaluated; only 56% were evaluated adequately. Twenty-five probable cases (69%) were treated. Most hospitals did not have formal policies for syphilis screening at delivery. The Minnesota Department of Health's congenital syphilis registry lacked sensitivity (39%) as a case ascertainment method.
Clinicians should adhere to standardized protocols in the evaluation and management of at-risk newborns. Vigilant screening prenatally and at delivery and adequate follow-up are critical to reduce congenital syphilis. Improved surveillance data and resources are needed for the identification and follow-up of newborns at risk for congenital syphilis.