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St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - The number of babies born with syphilis in Minnesota hit a 40-year high last year.

The Minnesota Department of Health says 29 cases of congenital syphilis, including three stillbirths, were reported to the state in 2023. State health officials note that as recently as 2013 and 2014 there were no cases of congenital syphilis reported in Minnesota.

Andy Brownell
Minnesota Department of Health

A news release says "congenital syphilis occurs when a pregnant woman passes her syphilis infection on to their fetus during pregnancy, which can cause severe complications such as miscarriages, stillbirths, premature birth, and brain/nerve problems." That can include blindness and deafness.

“It is heartbreaking to see this surge in congenital syphilis in Minnesota and nationally,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Brooke Cunningham. “Congenital syphilis is preventable by timely diagnosis and treatment.”


The State Health Department says it has updated screening guidelines for healthcare providers and is recommending that all pregnant women be screened at least three times during their pregnancy. The health department is also recommending that healthcare providers consider syphilis screening for all sexually active people, due to what it describes as "an alarming increase in all cases of syphilis in Minnesota, and throughout the nation in recent years."

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