Birth Defects Strike 1 in 10 U.S. Pregnancies Affected by Zika

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One in 10 pregnant women with confirmed Zika virus infections had an infant or fetus who showed signs of birth defects, according to a new report from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. The report, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is the largest study to look at outcomes among pregnant women with Zika infections. Much of the country may have experienced a brief reprieve from the virus, but it's about to be back on many parents' minds for one understandable reason: As a recent report detailed the newly-alarming number of Zika-related birth defects in the United States, some parents are justifiably concerned that the number will continue to rise. "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".

Almost 1,300 pregnant women, in 44 states, had laboratory evidence of a Zika virus infection in 2016.

Of the 1,000 who completed their pregnancies by the end of the year, more than 50 had Zika-related birth defects.

In a subset of 250 completed pregnancies from the U.S. Zika Pregnancy Registry, about 24 (10%, 95% CI 7%-14%) had birth defects related to congenital Zika virus infection, such as microcephaly, brain abnormalities, or developmental difficulties, reported Megan R. Reynolds, MPH, of the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues.

The CDC counts 1,228 completed pregnancies without known birth defects, 54 babies with Zika-related birth defects and seven pregnancy-related losses since the registry began previous year.

The report noted that only 1 in 4 babies with possible congenital Zika infection were reported to have received brain imaging after birth.

Since the Zika virus first appeared in the 2015, there has been only one baby born with Zika-related birth defects in San Diego County, and only five in California.

In the current tally, only one-fourth of USA infants born to women suspected to have Zika were given brain imaging tests after birth, meaning it's still possible we might be underestimating the harm Zika may have caused.

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Pregnant women should not travel to areas where Zika is spreading, CDC says.

In addition to funding more lab resources, Philip said the health department also will launch a program to coordinate care for infants born to mothers infected with Zika while pregnant.

"We know that some babies have underlying brain defects that are otherwise not evident at birth".

The rate of birth defects found in confirmed Zika cases is more than 30 times higher than the rate of similar birth defects that occurred in the United States prior to the start of the outbreak, study senior author Peggy Honein said at a Tuesday media briefing.

Schuchat said the CDC will not report individual state results from the national Zika pregnancy registry out of concern for patient privacy.

The CDC reminds women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant to avoid travel to areas where the virus is circulating and to follow recommendations for preventing sexual transmission of the virus if their partner has traveled to such an area. Because of limitations of testing, only tests done within the first few weeks of Zika can test specifically for the Zika virus.

While there is no treatment for Zika, health officials recommend that affected pregnant women receive additional monitoring so any birth defects can be found early.

Florida health officials confirmed 1,440 Zika infections in 2016, including 292 pregnant women. CDC experts published their findings today in a Vital Signs report in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).