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April 22, 1939

COMPLICATIONS DUE TO ARSENICAL THERAPY IN SYPHILITIC PREGNANT WOMEN: REPORT OF SEVEN MATERNAL DEATHS

Author Affiliations

Assistant Physician, Antepartum Clinic, Philadelphia General Hospital, and Associate in Dermatology and Syphilology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine PHILADELPHIA

JAMA. 1939;112(16):1537-1543. doi:10.1001/jama.1939.02800160001001
Abstract

Recent writings convey the impression that pregnant syphilitic women tolerate arsenical therapy well.1 In fact, the fear of serious reaction to the intravenous treatment of these patients with the arsphenamines has become so remote that some authorities recommend this prophylactic procedure for the unborn child, even "on suspicion" that the prospective mother may be diseased.2 McCord,3 who has apparently never seen a serious treatment reaction or death in the medical supervision of more than 2,000 syphilitic pregnant women, remarks that "such therapy seems to be safe for the mother." The Cooperative Clinical Group, with Cole4 as spokesman, feels that, regardless of antecedent therapy, in order to insure the birth of a healthy child it is desirable to treat intensively throughout each pregnancy every woman who has ever had syphilis, whether the serologic tests of the blood for syphilis are positive or negative or the infection is

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