LAREDO, TX (KGNS) - In 2018 over 300 cases of babies were born with syphilis, and out of that number more than 80 were born in Webb County.
As the Health Department continues to see an increase in babies born with the possibly deadly diseases, we spoke with a local non-profit who specializes in preventing and treating STD’s here at home.
A new state law now mandates three syphilis tests during a woman's pregnancy: one at the first prenatal exam, one during the third trimester, and another at delivery.
But as the state highlights the importance of prenatal care, the nonprofit organization PILLAR says they haven't seen an increase in pregnant women using their services after the mandate.
Pregnant women were already required to receive STD testing for hepatitis B and HIV, but in September 2019 a new law was passed adding syphilis to the list.
The state has seen an increase in still births as a result of more pregnant women testing positive for syphilis.
Although PILLAR hasn't seen an increase in pregnant women using their services after this mandate, they would like expecting mothers to know that if not treated, it could cost your unborn child's life.
"We have not seen an increase,” said Elizabeth Guzman. “We would like for women to become aware that it could cost all these damages to their newborns and cling to them and that there is help available, there is treatment and so with one round of treatment, it can be cured."
Guzman adds if syphilis is cured during the pregnancy it lowers the chances of the baby carrying the disease, so they go on to live a healthy life.
PILLAR does offer STD screenings and treatments at their clinic.
According to Guzman, the tests take about 15 minutes to complete with the results following soon after.
PILLAR is located at 1403 north Seymour Avenue. You can also call them at (956) 723-7457.
The nonprofit says they have also seen an increase in cases of chlamydia and that patients are not showing symptoms. They do encourage the community to receive an STD check at least once a year and it is anonymous at PILLAR.