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 U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Although microcephaly has been the most high-profile birth defect associated with Zika infections, congenital Zika syndrome is associated with a broad range of symptoms.
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. She said the CDC is still receiving about 30 to 40 reports of pregnant women infected with Zika virus each week. "Because we do not have brain imaging reports for most of the infants, our current data might significantly underestimate the impact of Zika", CDC's Peggy Honein told a news briefing.
About one in 10 of women in the United States who were infected with the Zika virus during pregnancy had a fetus or baby with birth defects, USA health authorities said Tuesday.
The threat of the mosquito-borne Zika virus reaching the US a year ago thankfully never approached our worst fears, with only a few locally spread cases seen in Texas and Florida.
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This report updates previously published estimates of the proportion of fetuses or babies with birth defects among pregnant women with possible Zika infection reported to the U.S. Zika Pregnancy Registry from January 15 to December 27, 2016 in the 50 U.S. states and Washington D.C. The Registry includes data from all U.S. states, DC, and all U.S. territories except Puerto Rico; pregnancies in Puerto Rico are monitored separately by the Zika Active Pregnancy Surveillance System.
In 2016, a total of 1,297 pregnant women with possible possible Zika infection were reported to the U.S. Zika Pregnancy Registry, the report said.
Those numbers climbed even higher when looking exclusively at pregnant women with confirmed Zika infections; 10 percent of those women gave birth to babies with congenital defects including microcephaly, a condition where the brain does not grow to full size.
In addition, the CDC reported in March that the threat of Zika was even greater for South Florida than previously understood - with a heightened risk since June 2016 for residents in Broward and Palm Beach counties because of local travel patterns and challenges in identifying all areas where the virus was spreading.
"Zika virus can be scary and potentially devastating to families".
Note that this surveillance data from the CDC suggests that roughly 10% of Zika-infected babies in the United States have a Zika-associated abnormality. The link between Zika and birth defects was first noticed because the infection can cause microcephaly, or an abnormally small head.
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Only 1 in 4 babies with possible Zika infection were reported to have received brain imaging after birth.
Every mosquito bite carries a risk, Schuchat said, and therefore preventing mosquito bites is critical to keep pregnant women and their babies safe. While the Associated Press reported that a Zika vaccine is set to be tested on 2,400 volunteers in the United States over the next few months, the reality is that the warmer months will soon be upon us.
Looking only at lab-confirmed cases of Zika infection, researchers found that about 1 in 10 pregnant women had a fetus or baby with birth defects. "We can not identify all of the babies with serious abnormalities without the brain imaging".
CDC is continuously updating guidance for healthcare providers on testing and clinical care for pregnant women and babies affected by Zika.
The new study appears in the CDC's April 4 Vital Signs report.
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