BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there has been a 10-time increase in syphilis cases in newborns in the last decade.

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease that can be passed down by a mother to her baby during pregnancy through blood circulation or during birth.    

The CDC reported that nine in 10 cases in 2022 could have been prevented during pregnancy, yet more than half did not receive timely or adequate treatment.

“We see more cases in those mothers who did not receive prenatal care,” said Valley Baptist Medical Center Chief of Pediatrics, Dr. Asim Zamir. “And that’s where the high rise of number comes out. The prevention is better than the cure, educating them to use protection and to screen themselves.”

In Texas, pregnant women must be tested during the first trimester, third trimester and during delivery.

The CDC says babies born to African American or Hispanic mothers were eight times more likely to contract congenital syphilis.

Congenital syphilis can also cause miscarriages, premature births, or death shortly after birth.

“The earliest symptoms are that they started getting [are that] their liver and spleen enlarge, mostly lower, they get a little sniffle in the nose, like they have congestion. And then right after that [they] start having mucoid discharge,” Zamir said.

Other symptoms include deformed bones, jaundice, severe anemia, meningitis, amongst others.

Syphilis can be easily treated and cured with penicillin, so it is important to visit your doctor if you think you have been exposed.