Zika birth defects found in 1 in 10 infected U.S. pregnant women

Zika birth defects found in 1 in 10 infected U.S. pregnant women

A new government report shows that almost 1,300 pregnancies from 44 states with possible recent Zika virus infection were reported to the U.S. Zika Pregnancy Registry in 2016. She added that 30 to 40 new cases of Zika among pregnant women are reported every week in the U.S.

Of those women with laboratory evidence of Zika virus, there were 77 reported pregnancy losses and 51 babies born with birth defects, including 43 babies with microcephaly or brain abnormalities. The CDC recommends that pregnant women infected with the Zika virus submit to a CT scan or ultrasound that included brain imaging, but it doesn't appear to be happening; Only 24 percent of those babies studied had brain scans. "That proportion increased to 15 percent for women with confirmed Zika during their first trimester", Schuchat said. In most cases, Zika was acquired during travel overseas to an area with active transmission of the mosquito-borne virus.

CDC guidance advises pregnant women to stay away from any areas with risk of Zika, including Miami-Dade, where state health officials in 2016 identified our areas with active spread of the virus. That is because researchers may not have been aware of all the asymptomatic Zika cases: Some women without symptoms may not have gotten tested for Zika, and consequently, their cases would not be reported.

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Only 25 percent of infants from pregnancies with possible recent Zika infection reported receiving postnatal neuroimaging. And with those mosquitoes comes the return of the threat of Zika virus.

"This illustrates the fact that, despite Zika awareness being high, there is still much clinical education that needs to occur for the U.S.to be able to effectively manage an outbreak", Adalja said. It's well established now that pregnant women infected with Zika risk giving birth to babies with microcephaly, a condition that causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads and brains, and Guillain-Barré syndrome.

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

Vaccinations have begun in a multisite Phase 2/2b clinical trial that's testing an experimental DNA vaccine created to protect against disease caused by Zika infection.

With a new mosquito season just around the corner and the travel season in full swing, CDC officials today urged pregnant women to avoid visiting areas with known Zika risk and avoid unprotected sex with a partner who has traveled to an area where the virus is spreading locally. "Health-care providers can play a key role in preventive efforts", Schuchat said in a statement.

Nationally, 1,617 pregnant women in the United States and the District of Columbia have reported infection. Of the 1,000 who completed their pregnancies by the end of the year, more than 50 had Zika-related birth defects. Babies born to mothers infected with Zika during pregnancy can experience hearing and vision problems as well as other developmental issues, including failure to achieve growth "milestones" or difficulty using their arms and legs. "Unfortunately, there has not been good follow-up of these patients", she said. Schuchat, however, said the recommendation for physical exam and tests for Zika-affected babies is relatively new, and many clinicians might not be aware of it and may not know the value of brain scanning.

Collaborating with local and state health departments, the agency found that 1,297 pregnant women, located across 44 states, were suspected of contracting Zika during their pregnancy from January to December 2016.

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