Institute for Global Health


Prevention and elimination of mother to child transmission of syphilis


Project Summary

Mother-to-child transmission of syphilis is a consequence of undiagnosed, untreated, or inadequately treated maternal syphilis, and can result in a number of adverse pregnancy outcomes (APOs): late foetal loss, stillbirth, low birth weight, neonatal death, or an infant with reactive serology and clinical symptoms and signs (classically called "congenital syphilis").

WHO estimates that 1.3 million pregnant women annually have active syphilis infection, resulting in a substantial burden of preventable morbidity and mortality including over 200,000 stillbirths and foetal losses and over 90,000 neonatal deaths 

We work closely with WHO to strengthen the evidence base to reach the global goal of eliminating mother to child transmission of syphilis.


Kahn JG, Jiwani A, Gomez GB, Hawkes SJ, Chesson HW, et al. The Cost and Cost-Effectiveness of Scaling up Screening and Treatment of Syphilis in Pregnancy: A Model. PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e87510. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0087510

Hawkes, S. J., Gomez, G. B., & Broutet, N. Early antenatal care: does it make a difference to outcomes of pregnancy associated with syphilis? A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One, 2013; 8 (2), e56713-?.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0056713

Gomez GB, Kamb ML, Newman L, Mark J, Broutet N, Hawkes S. Untreated maternal syphilis and adverse outcomes of pregnancy: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Bulletin WHO 2013;91:217-226. Doi: 10.2471/BLT.12.107623

Newman, L., Kamb, M., Hawkes, S., Gomez, G., Say, L., Seuc, A., & Broutet, N. Global Estimates of Syphilis in Pregnancy and Associated Adverse Outcomes: Analysis of Multinational Antenatal Surveillance Data. PLoS Medicine, 2013;10 (2).

Tucker J, Yang B, Peeling R, Vickerman P, Hawkes S, Chen XS. Prioritsing congenital syphilis control in south China: a decision analytic model to inform policy implementation. PLOS MEDICINE, published Jan 2013 

Hawkes SJ, Matin N, Broutet N, Low N. Effectiveness of interventions to improve screening for antenatal syphilis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Infect Dis. 2011: 11(9);684-691

Kamb M, Newman L, Riley P, Mark J, Hawkes S, Malik T, Broutet N. A Road Map for the Elimination of Congenital Syphilis. Obstetrics and Gynecology International: 2010; Article ID 312798

Tucker JD, Hawkes S, Yin YP, Peeling RW, Cohen MS, Chen XS Scaling up syphilis testing in China: implementation beyond the clinic. Bulletin WHO, Bull World Health Organ 2010;88:452-457

Schmid G, Stoner BP, Hawkes S, Broutet N. The Need and Plan for Global Elimination of Congenital Syphilis. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 2007;34(7Suppl):S5-10.  

Hossain M, Broutet N, Hawkes S. National policies for the control of congenital syphilis. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 2007;34(7 Suppl):S22-30.

Hawkes S, Miller S, Reichenbach L, Nayyar A, Buse K. Antenatal syphilis control: people, programmes, policies and politics. Bulletin WHO 2004; 82(6):417-423

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