Prenatal Syphilis Screening Among Medicaid Enrollees in 6 Southern States

Published:January 05, 2022DOI:


      The rates of syphilis among pregnant women and infants have increased in recent years, particularly in the U.S. South. Although state policies require prenatal syphilis testing, recent screening rates comparable across Southern states are not known. The purpose of this study is to measure syphilis screening among Medicaid enrollees with delivery in states in the U.S. South.


      A total of 6 state–university research partnerships in the U.S. South developed a distributed research network to analyze Medicaid claims data using a common analytic approach for enrollees with delivery in fiscal years 2017–2018 and 2018–2019 (combined N=504,943). In 2020–2021, each state calculated the percentage of enrollees with delivery with a syphilis screen test during the first trimester, third trimester, and at any point during pregnancy. Percentages for those with first-trimester enrollment were compared with the percentages of those who enrolled in Medicaid later in pregnancy.


      Prenatal syphilis screening during pregnancy ranged from 56% to 91%. Screening was higher among those enrolled in Medicaid during the first trimester than in those enrolled later in pregnancy.


      Despite state laws requiring syphilis screening during pregnancy, screening was much lower than 100%, and states varied in syphilis screening rates among Medicaid enrollees. Findings indicate that access to Medicaid in the first trimester is associated with higher rates of syphilis screening and that efforts to improve access to screening in practice settings are needed.
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