CDC: Too Few Infants Born to Zika-Infected Mothers Receive Proper Follow-Up

Findings highlight why pregnant women should avoid Zika virus exposure
Findings highlight why pregnant women should avoid Zika virus exposure

(HealthDay News) — One in 10 pregnant U.S. women with confirmed Zika infection in 2016 had a baby with virus-related birth defects, according to research published in the April 4 early-release issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The CDC last year received reports from 44 states of 1,297 expecting mothers with possible Zika infection. In most cases, Zika was acquired during travel abroad to an area with active transmission of the virus. Lab tests confirmed Zika infection in 250 of the women. Of those, 24 completed their pregnancy with a fetus or infant with birth defects linked to the virus. Infection in the first trimester posed the greatest risk, with 15 percent of confirmed cases having Zika-related birth defects.

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The rate of birth defects found in confirmed Zika cases is more than 30 times higher than the rate of similar birth defects that occurred in the United States prior to the start of the Zika outbreak. The CDC report also revealed that many physicians aren't carefully tracking pregnancies threatened by Zika. About one-third (35 percent) of infants with possible Zika infection during pregnancy were not tested for the virus at birth, and only 25 percent received neuroimaging after birth to check for possible defects.

"Because the full clinical spectrum of congenital Zika virus infection is not yet known, all infants born to women with laboratory evidence of possible recent Zika virus infection during pregnancy should receive postnatal neuroimaging and Zika virus testing in addition to a comprehensive newborn physical exam and hearing screen," the authors write.

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