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Public health alert issued in NC after the deaths of several babies from congenital syphilis

A newborn cries on September 17, 2013 at the maternity of the Lens hospital, northern France. A study of crying mice could help explain some building blocks of human infant cries and adult speech.
AFP via Getty Images
File: A newborn cries on September 17, 2013 in the maternity ward of a hospital.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has issued a public health alert after the deaths of several babies from congenital syphilis.

There have been five cases of stillbirths or newborn deaths as a result of congenital syphilis from Jan. 1 to Sept. 1, 2023.

NCDHHS is asking doctors to work to prevent congenital syphilis and help reverse this “alarming” trend.

State health officials say it’s a preventable disease, but if left untreated in pregnant women, it can have life-long health impacts on babies, like bone damage, anemia, jaundice, blindness or deafness or skin rashes. It can also lead to miscarriages and stillbirths.

In North Carolina 57 cases were reported in 2022 compared to only one case reported ten years prior; that mirrors a national trend.

Annette is originally a Midwest gal, born and raised in Michigan, but with career stops in many surrounding states, the Pacific Northwest, and various parts of the southeast. She has been involved in the media industry in eastern North Carolina for more than three years. An award-winning journalist and mother of four, Annette moved to ENC to be closer to family – in particular, her two young grandchildren. It’s possible that a -27 day with a -68 windchill in Minnesota may have also played a role in that decision. In her spare time, Annette does a lot of toddler and baby cuddling, reading, designing costumes for children’s theater and producing the coolest Halloween costumes anyone has ever seen. She has also worked as a diversity and inclusion facilitator serving school districts and large corporations. It’s the people that make this beautiful area special, and she wants to share those stories that touch the hearts of others. If you have a story idea to share, please reach out by email to