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Congenital Syphilis

Person holding a stethoscope on a pregnant woman's belly.Congenital syphilis (CS) is an infection transmitted from pregnant person to child during pregnancy and/or delivery caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. CS 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 CS. From 2012 to 2019, female syphilis cases increased over 750% and CS cases increased over 1,200%, from 33 cases in 2012 to 446 cases in 2019. This is the highest number of reported CS cases since 1993. In 2019, most CS cases were reported from Central and Southern California; however an increasing number of counties throughout California are reporting CS cases. Most pregnant females who gave birth to infants with CS received prenatal care late in pregnancy or not at all.

Included below are CS specific resources for providers, local health jurisdictions, field investigation, and the public + CS data and surveillance information. General information on syphilis can be found on the California Department of Public Health STD Control Branch syphilis webpage.

Resources for Providers

Resources for Local Health Jurisdictions

Resources for Field Investigation

Resources for the Public

  • Syphilis is on the Rise in California Babies Infographic (PDF) [English] [Spanish - coming soon]

  • Syphilis in Pregnancy - Get Tested

    • Poster (PDF) [English] [Spanish - coming soon]

    • Flyer (PDF) [English] [Spanish - coming soon]

  • Protect Your Baby from Syphilis Poster (PDF) [English] [Spanish]

  • Perinatal Communicable Disease Educational Material for Pregnant People (PDF) [English] [Spanish]

  • STDs During Pregnancy Fact Sheet (CDC) [English] [Spanish]

  • Congenital Syphilis Fact Sheet (CDC) [English] [Spanish]

  • Syphilis Fact Sheet (CDC) [English] [Spanish]

  • Protect Your Baby from Syphilis Infographic (March of Dimes) [English] [Spanish]

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