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Researchers say one English king suffered from syphilis

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Lisa Oldson, MD Mar. 16, 2011

Historical descriptions of King Henry VIII refer to his various health conditions and inability to reproduce with more than one of his wives. Now, researchers from Southern Methodist University have uncovered several of the king's underlying health conditions, which may have influenced his wives' miscarriages, according to MSNBC.

The news source reports that Henry had a rare blood type known as Kell positive. The researchers told MSNBC that they believe his wives did not belong to the same blood group, so when fetuses exposed the women to Kell positive blood, the mothers' blood began to produce antibodies against the babies' antigens.

Along with diabetes and Cushing's syndrome, the news organization reports that King Henry also suffered from syphilis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that can cause prenatal death in 40 percent of untreated cases and contributes to infection in 80 percent of fetuses who are born to mothers who don't receive medication.

Any individual who would like to be screened for syphilis and other STDs may consider using online testing services.

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