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New Oklahoma law will increase syphilis screening for pregnant patients

Flickr / daquellamanera

Oklahoma ranks in the top five states for babies born with syphilis, but that could change soon. The governor signed a bill that will require more frequent screenings for pregnant patients.

The CDC estimates from 2016 to 2020, the rate of babies born with syphilis in Oklahoma went up by nearly 2,000 percent. There are a few reasons for that, but chief among them is syphilis was rare in women until about 2014, when cases began to skyrocket.

Syphilis is a treatable infection. Left untreated, it can be passed on to babies, which can cause serious health problems such as muscular and skeletal deformities and neurological issues.

Current state law requires one syphilis screening: right at the beginning of pregnancy. Public health and medical experts have been pushing for more screening throughout pregnancy.

Last week, Gov. Kevin Stitt’s office announced he signed Senate Bill 292, which requires doctors and health care providers to follow CDC screening recommendations.

"Currently, recommendations are screening at the first prenatal visit, re-test at 28 weeks’ gestation, and at delivery if at high risk," said Senator Brenda Stanley, the bill's author.

In 2021, the latest figures on record, Oklahoma ranked fourth in the nation for reported cases of syphilis.

Copyright 2023 KOSU. To see more, visit KOSU.

Catherine Sweeney