antenatal screening programme


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 the NHS website.

UK NSC screening recommendation Based on the last UK NSC review of this condition that occurred in July 2020.

Screening for this condition is recommended.

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.

Supporting documents from the 2020 review

Syphilis Screening HE Model Report Feb 2020 Final
A mathematical method to predict the costs and health effects (or health outcomes) of one intervention compared to another, based on the best available evidence.

Syphilis retesting in the third trimester Coversheet UK NSC 15 07 2020
This document summarises the review process including the public consultation comments.

Screening around the UK

The UK NSC recommends screening for this condition, however this may vary slightly depending on where you are in the UK.

Review cycle

Date previous review completed: 2020

Next review estimated to be completed: 2023 to 2024.

To see previous evidence reviews, visit the UK NSC archive.

Organisations interested in Syphilis

These organisations have expressed interest in this recommendation and may submit responses to evidence reviews.

List of organisations

If you think your organisation should be added, please contact us.