CDC Reports 1 in 12 Pregnant Woman who Contracted Zika Have Children with Severe Birth Defects
In the U.S. territories, 5 percent of women who had confirmed Zika virus infection during pregnancy had a baby or fetus with Zika virus-associated birth defects, according to a report published today in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Among the women with confirmed Zika infection during the first trimester, 8 percent or nearly 1 in 12 had a baby or fetus with Zika virus-associated birth defects. This report, the first from the US territories, represents the largest number of completed pregnancies with laboratory confirmation of Zika virus infection to date.
“As these latest findings illustrate, Zika virus poses a serious threat to pregnant women and their babies, regardless of when the infection occurs during the pregnancy,” said CDC Acting Director Anne Schuchat, M.D.
The report reviewed the cases of 2,549 women with possible Zika virus infection who completed their pregnancies, of which 1,508 had confirmed Zika virus infection. In this report, more than 120 pregnancies resulted in Zika-associated birth defects. The data reported to the Zika pregnancy and infant registries were from American Samoa, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Marshall Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands from January 1, 2016, to April 25, 2017.
This report reinforces earlier guidance that preventing Zika virus infection at any time during pregnancy is critically important given the severity of its associated birth defects. Pregnant women living in areas with ongoing local Zika virus transmission are at continued risk of developing infection.
The findings in this report also emphasize the importance of follow-up care for infants with congenital Zika virus infection. Identification of infants born to mothers with Zika virus infection during pregnancy allows for timely planning of intervention services. In addition, assessing diagnostic testing and clinical evaluation practices can help CDC, public health officials, and healthcare providers direct efforts to monitor and provide care for infants affected by Zika virus.
CDC continues to encourage women and their partners considering pregnancy who live in or travel to areas with risk of Zika to talk to their healthcare providers so that they know the risks and ways to prevent exposure.
Ms. Jensen is a leading advocate for families and children and was the founder and president of ACES, The Association for Children for Enforcement of Support.
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