1 in 20 Pregnant Women With Zika Infection Have Children With Birth Defects

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The rate of birth defects was highest among women who were infected during the first trimester.
The rate of birth defects was highest among women who were infected during the first trimester.

HealthDay News -- About 1 in 20 women in the US territories who were infected with Zika during pregnancy had babies with possible Zika-associated birth defects, according to research published in the early-release issue of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The data were compiled from American Samoa, Puerto Rico, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Marshall Islands, and the US Virgin Islands from Jan. 1, 2016, to April 25, 2017. The researchers reviewed 2549 cases of pregnant women in the US territories with possible Zika virus infection.

Among these pregnancies, 122 (5%) resulted in a fetus or infant with possible Zika-associated birth defects. Among women with completed pregnancies, 1561 reported signs or symptoms compatible with Zika virus infection during pregnancy. The birth defect percentage rate was similar for women with and without symptoms of infection (5% among symptomatic and 4% among asymptomatic women). Among women infected in the first trimester, 8% had an infant with defects; 5% in second trimester, and 4% in third trimester. In accordance with CDC guidelines, 59% of these infants were tested for Zika at birth, 52% underwent postnatal neuroimaging, and 79% had their hearing screened at birth.

"The defects caused by Zika are not always obvious at birth," Anne Schuchat, MD, acting director of the CDC, told HealthDay. "That's why identification of and follow-up care of babies with possible Zika virus infection is crucial -- it ensures that babies get the proper care."

Reference

Shapiro-Mendoza CK, Rice ME, Galang RR, et al. Pregnancy outcomes after maternal zika virus infection during pregnancy — U.S. Territories, January 1, 2016–April 25, 2017 [published online June 8. 2017]. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm6623e1

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