Zika Outcome Remains a Serious Threat for Babies

Forty-four states have reported cases of pregnant women with evidence of Zika
(Zika News)

Of the 250 pregnant women who had confirmed Zika infection in 2016, approximately 10 percent had a baby with Zika-related birth defects, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

This CDC report confirms the serious threat posed by Zika virus infection during pregnancy and the critical need for pregnant women to continue to take steps to prevent Zika virus exposure through mosquito bites and sexual transmission.

In total, 44 states have reported cases of pregnant women with evidence of Zika in 2016. Most of these cases were travel-related.

Unfortunately, only 25 percent of the babies with possible congenital Zika were reported to have received brain imaging after birth.

Zika infection during pregnancy can cause serious damage to the brain and microcephaly in developing fetuses. It also can lead to congenital Zika syndrome in babies, a pattern of birth defects that includes brain abnormalities, vision problems, hearing loss, and problems moving limbs.

Babies may also appear healthy at birth but have underlying brain defects or other Zika-related health problems.

Testing for Zika remains complex because there is a narrow timeframe for obtaining a positive laboratory result, and many infected people do not have symptoms that might motivate testing.

For this reason, the CDC is monitoring all pregnant women with any evidence of recent Zika infection.

“Zika virus can be scary and potentially devastating to families. Zika continues to be a threat to pregnant women across the U.S.,” said CDC Acting Director Anne Schuchat, M.D.

“With warm weather and a new mosquito season approaching, prevention is crucial to protect the health of mothers and babies. Healthcare providers can play a key role in prevention efforts,” said Dr. Schuchat.

With a new mosquito season coming this summer, CDC officials are urging pregnant women to avoid visiting areas with known Zika risk.

Additionally, the CDC suggest avoiding unprotected sex with a partner who has traveled to an area where the virus is spreading locally.

They also urged health providers to educate families on Zika prevention, provide all needed testing and follow-up care, and support affected babies and their families.

There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika.