The UK NSC recommendation on Syphilis screening in pregnancy

Recommendation Systematic population screening programme recommended
Last review completed July 2020
Next review due in 2023/24
Key downloads

Find general information about population health screening.

Why is screening recommended by UK NSC?

The UK NSC carried out an evidence review in 2018 which recommended screening in early pregnancy should continue as the benefits outweigh the harms. No evidence was found to oppose this recommendation.

Screening enables early diagnosis and antibiotic treatment to reduce the risk of syphilis passing from mother to baby and any associated health problems.

In 2020, the UK NSC explored the cost effectiveness of a repeat screening test later in pregnancy. This was not recommended. Compared with single screening, repeat screening would not be cost effective as it would cost £1.8m to prevent one case of congenital syphilis.  

More about Syphilis

Syphilis is a bacterial infection which is usually passed through sexual contact. Congenital syphilis occurs if infected mothers pass the infection to their unborn child. Untreated syphilis can cause serious health problems for mother and baby.

» Read more about syphilis on NHS UK

» Read more about syphilis screening

Screening in the UK

Compare how screening is offered across the UK.


British Association for Sexual Health and HIV
British Maternal & Fetal Medicine Society
Faculty of Public Health
Institute of Child Health
Royal College of General Practitioners
Royal College of Midwives
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
Royal College of Physicians
Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

The stakeholder groups will be involved when the recommendation is next reviewed. If you think your organisation should be added, please contact us. More information for stakeholders can be found in appendix C of the UK NSC evidence review process.

Related documents

icon Evidence summary- syphilis (2014) (PDF document, 411KB, 19/12/19)
icon Triage review - syphilis (2018) (PDF document, 280KB, 03/01/20)
icon UK NSC coversheet & consultation responses- syphilis (2018) (PDF document, 572KB, 19/12/19)

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