- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 13, 2016

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - The state health department is urging pregnant women to get tested for syphilis after a spike in the number of babies born with the disease.

The Alabama Department of Public Health issued the precaution after at least 10 infants were born with the severe illness. That compares with three cases each in 2014 and 2015.

Congenital syphilis results from untreated syphilis in the infant’s mother before delivery. It is preventable by ensuring that women with syphilis are treated during pregnancy.

In eight of the 10 most recent cases, the mothers either had no prenatal care or received care late into their pregnancies.

The state health department is offering a free test to any woman who is not yet enrolled in prenatal care by the second trimester.

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