Number of reported congenital syphilis cases (live births and stillbirth) in the past 12 months

Export Indicator

Number of reported congenital syphilis cases (live births and stillbirth) in the past 12 monthsSTI Pilot Indicators (to be reported by PAHO and EMRO countries only)
What it measures

Progress in elimination of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of syphilis.

The rate of congenital syphilis is a measure of the impact of programmatic interventions to eliminate MTCT of syphilis.

Rationale

Untreated syphilis infection in pregnancy can not only increase risk of HIV transmission and acquisition in the mother and the infant, but also lead to stillbirth, neonatal death, and congenital disease (collectively defined as “congenital syphilis”). Given the high efficacy, simplicity, and low cost of syphilis testing and treatment, global and regional initiatives to eliminate MTCT of syphilis have been launched.

Numerator

Number of reported congenital syphilis cases (live births and stillbirths) in the past 12 months

Denominator

Number of live births per UNPD

Calculation
Method of measurement

Routine health information systems

Data Quality Control and Notes for the Reporting Tool: Recommended indicator in "Methods for Surveillance and Monitoring of Congenital Syphilis Elimination within Existing Systems".

Measurement frequency
Disaggregation
Explanation of the numerator
Explanation of the denominator
Strengths and weaknesses

Diagnosis of congenital syphilis is most reliable when using specific diagnostic tests that are seldom available in developed countries. Therefore, in most countries diagnosis of congenital syphilis relies on clinical history and examination, making surveillance challenging. Although WHO has a global case definition for surveillance purposes, actual case definition may vary between and within countries and regions.

Additional considerations: It is important that countries when reporting on syphilis communicate on the extent to which the data are felt to be representative of the national population.

Data utilization: Given the difficulties in diagnosing congenital syphilis, and depending on the case definition used, either underreporting or overreporting can be a problem. The likely magnitude of such reporting errors should always be considered when looking at rates of congenital syphilis. However, with use of a consistent case definition, trends over time may be useful.

Further information