Examination of a prenatal syphilis screening program, Alberta, Canada: 2010–2011

Sabrina S. Plitt, Mariam Osman, Vanita Sahni, Bonita E. Lee, Carmen Charlton, Kimberley Simmonds


OBJECTIVES: In 2009, due to increasing congenital syphilis rates, prenatal syphilis tests (PST) at both mid-gestation and delivery were added to first trimester prenatal screening in the province of Alberta. We sought to determine the proportion of mothers who had all three recommended PSTs during this period and to identify factors associated with incomplete PST.

METHODS: A cohort of all pregnancies resulting in a live or stillborn infant in Alberta for 2010 and 2011 was developed from Vital Statistics and linked with prenatal screening data to determine the number and timing of PSTs for pregnant women. The proportion of women who had PSTs at the three recommended time points in pregnancy and associated correlates were identified using basic statistics and logistic regressions.

RESULTS: Of 99,609 pregnancies, 20.7% had all three PSTs at the recommended time points. Overall, 98.5% (98,162) had at least one PST, 1.5% only had PST at delivery and 1.5% had no PST performed. Independent risk factors for not having the three recommended PSTs included First Nations status (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]: 1.78 [95% CI: 1.62–1.96]), rural remote residence (AOR 3.61 [95% CI: 3.10–4.20]) and sole use of a midwife for prenatal care (AOR 13.70 [95% CI: 9.20–20.39]).

CONCLUSIONS: Nearly all pregnant women in Alberta received a PST at least once during their pregnancy, however far fewer received PSTs at the recommended time points. Interventions that target those who are less likely to be prenatally screened may help to ensure that pregnant women get early and appropriate care for syphilis during pregnancy.


Prenatal diagnosis; syphilis; prenatal care; Canada

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17269/cjph.107.5320