Published: Thu, April 06, 2017
Sports | By Phillip Butler

CDC: Birth Defects Affected 1 In 10 Babies Whose Moms Got Zika

CDC: Birth Defects Affected 1 In 10 Babies Whose Moms Got Zika

Zika virus infections in pregnant women are linked to fetal deaths and microcephaly, a birth defect that causes babies to have abnormally small heads. This report is the first of its kind, to present an analysis from a sample of USA women with a definite case of Zika infection during pregnancy. The CDC recommends that all babies born to mothers with possible Zika infection have a brain scan at birth, but only 1 in 4 now receives one. Puerto Rico, which has a separate registry, has recorded 3,363 cases in pregnant women.

Confirmed infections in the first trimester posed the highest risk - with about 15% having Zika-related birth defects.

According to the Department of State Health Services, seven babies were born with birth defects that could be Zika-related.

The CDC report also revealed that many physicians aren't carefully tracking pregnancies threatened by Zika.

Overall, 45 babies in the United States were born with Zika-related birth defects previous year, the CDC reported, and there were six "pregnancy losses" due to such defects.

Adalja called this "the most ominous finding in this report".

A New York City obstetrician-gynecologist agreed.

That's about 10 percent of those babies have shown signs of possible Zika infection which is on par with the national average.

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.

These birth defects include microcephaly and/or brain abnormalities, dysfunction of the central nervous system, eye abnormalities, and other eye brain deformations.

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.

The findings from this report confirm the serious threat posed by Zika virus infection during pregnancy and the critical need for pregnant women to continue taking steps to prevent Zika virus exposure through mosquito bites and sexual transmission.

Pediatricians can learn more about testing infants via an AAP webinar "Zika Virus, the Evolving Story: What You Need to Know" at 11 a.m. EDT on April 11.

CBS News quoted acting CDC Director Dr. Anne Schuchat as saying: "Unfortunately, every mosquito bite carries a risk". "Don't let this outbreak become your family's heartbreak", she said.

"Although Zika may seem like last year's problem, or an issue confined to Brazil, there have been more than 1,600 cases in pregnant women reported here in the US", said Dr. Anne Schuchat, acting director at CDC.

"The consequences of this outbreak are heartbreaking", Schuchat told reporters.

However, CDC officials say many infants are not being tested. The Zika pregnancy registry collected data from all the states in the U.S. and from Washington DC., except the territory of Puerto Rico, which has its own surveillance system to monitor Zika pregnancies in their area. 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. Given that the normal incidence of these birth defects in the U.S. population is roughly 3 per every 1000 births, according to Dr. Honein, these findings are particularly noteworthy.

The CDC released the news today as part of their Vital Signs Report.

Now there is no licensed vaccine to prevent disease caused by Zika infection.

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