A new report from the U.S. government is noting an increased number of Black babies being born with congenital syphilis, an STD that can can result in retardation, deafness, nerve damage and bone deformities. By law, doctors must report cases of syphilis to the government. Of the 431 congenital syphilis cases reported in the US in 2008, nearly 50% were in infants born to Black mothers in the South, 31% were to Hispanic mothers and 15% to White mothers. According to research conducted by the Center for Disease Control, the increase in mother-to-child infection is especially high among Black women who use crack cocaine and engage in commercial sex work. Syphilis is caused by bacteria known as Treponema palladium, which is spread through vaginal, anal or oral sex and is treatable with penicillin.   On a larger scale the report is a wake-up call to the importance of prenatal care. More than a quarter of the women whose babies were born with congenital syphilis did not receive prenatal care. Screening for syphilis bacteria in the first three months of pregnancy is the law in 42 states. Read More: