Can Congenital Syphilis Be Cured?

I have a question regarding Congenital syphilis.

I was reading Maureen “Marcia Brady’s” McCormick’s autobiography and she states that her maternal grandmother had syphillis. Her mother was born with congenital syphilis.

Of course this was in the 20s or 30s before antibiotics so they couldn’t do anything to stop the grandmother from passing it on to McCormick’s mother.

Later in when antibiotics came into play they treated McCormick’s mother.

Maureen states she and her brothers were all treated to prevent them from getting syphillis, though she has a mentally challanged brother, who know one can figure out if it was or was not because of the syphillis or not.

First question is Maureen McCormick was born in 1956 so by that time shouldn’t they have had the ability to stop a mother with congential syphillis from giving it to her kids? Her brothers are all within 10 years older.

Secondly my real question is about McCormick’s mum.

OK so if a woman get syphillis today, She can take antibiotics and barring now odd complicatons can be 100% cured, right? Then she can give birth without worries about damaging her kids right? Or is there always a danger of passing it on.

If this is so, then why did McCormick’s mum who was treated with antibiotics in the 40s (she lived to be in her late 80s) have to have her children treated for syphillis before and at birth?

I really can’t answer your question, but allow me to say…



Unfortunately don’t have the answer to this one.


Once cured she shouldn’t pass it on. Getting syphilis doesn’t give you immunity, however. You can catch it again.

Dunno. Maybe she caught it again? Maybe it was never successfully cured to begin with?

IIRC, syphillis will dissappear after the initial infection; it then can reappear later in life as occasional outbreaks (as polio seems to do too, now). It attacks the brain - Al Capone was released from prison after 10 years because he had recurrences of his syphillis that made him senile.

In “The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat,” Oliver Sacks describes a woman who was treated for syphilis in the early days of arsenic-based drugs. The treatment was enough to send her symptoms into remission, but not to wipe out the bug entirely. She later developed neurosyphilis, which was successfully treated with antibiotics. I don’t see why one couldn’t have a similar scenario with insufficient antibiotic treatment.

The situation with polio is a bit different. That virus (unlike the chickenpox virus) does not linger in the body–at least not in any description I’ve ever read. However, even in people who have made a good recovery from polio, there is nerve damage. As they age, the effects of this begin to show up as a new occurrence of symptoms similar to paralytic polio. This is called post-polio syndrome, and perhaps a majority of survivors have at least some.

McCormick states her mother was treated originally with mecury, which I guess was standard treatment, and she was later treated with antibiotics in the 40s when they came around.

I guess what is confusing me is I thought once you had syphillis, with antibiotics you could be cured completely. OK as one poster mentioned, you can get it again, but I thought once you were cured that was it.

I thought maybe because McCormick’s mum was born with syphillis rather than getting it later on, that somehow made a difference.