Diagnostic of congenital syphilis: a comparison between serological tests in mother and respective newborn

For the purpose of establishing the incidence of maternal and congenital syphilis among pregnant women at delivery and their respective newborns, a study was carried out to determine treponemic and non-treponemic serology in one thousand (1,000) parturient women and their children at Santa Marcelina Hospital - São Paulo, between June 95 and July 96. All blood samples (maternal venous, umbilical cord and newborn venous) were VDRL-tested, treponemic tests (TPHA, ELISA IgG, ELISA IgM) being applied whenever one of the samples from mother or newborn proved positive. Further, an anti-HIV search was run through ELISA among VDRL-positive mothers. Among the 1,000 parturients, 24 (2.4%) were found to be VDRL-reactive; 18 (1.8%) newborn children of these 24 mothers presented positive serology in their umbilical cord blood and 19 (1.9%) in venous blood. No positive newborns were found for negative mothers. From the high occurrence of maternal and congenital syphilis in this group of patients, we propose a VDRL maternal test as a way of selecting gestational and congenital syphilis cases, since this test appeared to be sufficiently capable of such diagnoses. Of the treponemic tests, the ELISA test did not enhance diagnostic sensitivity.

Maternal syphilis; Congenital syphilis; Treponemic tests; Non-treponemic tests


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