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April 1959

Review of the Recent Literature

Author Affiliations

Philadelphia; With the Collaboration of T. Guthe, M.D., and C. J. Hackett, M.D., Geneva, Switzerland

From the University of Pennsylvania, Departments of Dermatology, School of Medicine (Dr. Donald M. Pillsbury, Professor), and The Graduate School of Medicine (Dr. Herman Beerman, Chairman). Dr. Guthe and Dr. Hackett are with the World Health Organization.

AMA Arch Intern Med. 1959;103(4):621-643. doi:10.1001/archinte.1959.00270040107014

Prenatal and Congenital Syphilis 

Serology in Prenatal and Congenital Syphilis.  —Putkonen and his group117 present an answer to the question, "Is the placenta of a syphilitic mother more readily traversed by the complement-fixing antibody than by the flocculating antibody?" They compared the serologic tests performed on specimens of blood from 211 penicillin-treated mothers with specimens of cord blood from their 213 infants, including two pairs of twins. Of the infants, 25% showed a positive Wassermann test and 37% a positive Kahn test. The difference is reduced when one takes into consideration that the Wassermann test employed was considerably less sensitive than the Kahn test. On the basis of their results, they conclude that both antibody reagins traverse the placenta equally readily. Further, they feel that in the studies performed elsewhere showing a predominance of the positive complement-fixation test over the positive flocculation reaction in the infants, the former test has