Birth defects seen in 6 percent of US pregnancies with Zika


16 December, 2016

Pregnant women who have lived in, traveled to or had sex without a condom with someone who lives in or traveled to Brownsville on or after October 29 should be tested for the Zika virus.

"These include brain abnormalities with and without microcephaly, neural tube defects and other brain malformations or eye abnormalities and deafness that can happen from damage to the central nervous system", explained Margaret Honein, lead author of the USA study.

One study found that 6 percent of infants born to Zika-infected mothers in the United States had one or more birth defects related to the mosquito-borne virus. Zika is transmitted primarily via the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, although it can also be spread through sexual contact.

The author of the US study said numerous USA -born babies may still be diagnosed with birth defects as they approach the age of 1, since evidence has shown the virus can continue to damage a baby's brain after birth.

A total of 442 women with possible Zika infection had given birth by September 22, and 26 of those pregnancies, or six percent, resulted in birth defects that may be linked to Zika.

The CDC study was published this week by the Journal of the American Medical Association. On Friday, health officials reported four additional cases involving people who live near the first one.

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About six percent of babies born in the United States to mothers infected with the mosquito-borne Zika virus while pregnant were born with birth defects, USA researchers said Thursday.

The locally transmitted Florida cases were detected over the summer.

Zika can cause babies to be born with malformed brains and unusually small heads, a condition known as microcephaly. Among women infected in the first trimester, 11 percent had fetuses or infants with birth defects, which is consistent with previous estimates, Honein noted. All of the women included were infected while in a Zika outbreak country or had sex with someone who got Zika overseas. "However, we want to cast a wide net with testing to develop a clearer picture of what is happening with Zika in the area and provide pregnant women with more information about their health".

Pregnant women already in Brownsville should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites. The CDC designated Bronsville as a "yellow" area "where local spread of Zika virus has been identified, but there is not yet any evidence of widespread, sustained local spread".

"It's critical that pregnant women not travel to areas where Zika is spreading".

The World Health Organization has more on Zika.

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