Syphilis remains an important and entirely preventable cause of stillbirth and neonatal
mortality. More than 1 million women with active syphilis become pregnant each year.
Without treatment, 25% of them will deliver a stillborn baby, 33% will deliver a live
low-birth weight baby with an increased chance of dying in the first month of life.
Adverse pregnancy outcomes due to syphilis can be prevented by screening pregnant
women, and treating those who test positive with a single dose of penicillin before
28 weeks gestation. Until recently access to screening in low- and middle-income countries
has been limited, since screening tests have been laboratory based, requiring equipment,
electricity and trained laboratory staff. Now a number of rapid, cheap, simple and
accurate screening tests are available and can give a result in 15-20 min, enabling
those who require treatment to be treated at their first visit.