Nearly 10% of pregnant women with lab-confirmed Zika had a baby or fetus with birth defects in 2016

Approximately 1 in 10 of pregnant women with confirmed Zika infections in the U.S. had a baby or fetus with birth defects in 2016, according to a new Vital Signs report from the CDC.

In 2016, nearly 1,000 women residing in 44 states across the country displayed some evidence of having been infected with Zika virus and were determined to be at risk of delivering an infant with Zika-related birth defects. Of the 250 the pregnant women with laboratory confirmed Zika infections, 24 (approximately 10 percent) had a baby or fetus with Zika-related birth defects. The majority of women surveyed contracted the virus while traveling outside the U.S.

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Obtaining laboratory confirmation for Zika infection can be difficult because of the limited timeframe in which a positive test result can be obtained. Testing for the virus is further complicated by the fact that many of those infected are asymptomatic and therefore do not seek testing.

"Zika virus can be scary and potentially devastating to families. Zika continues to be a threat to pregnant women across the U.S.," said CDC Acting Director Anne Schuchat, MD. "With warm weather and a new mosquito season approaching, prevention is crucial to protect the health of mothers and babies. Healthcare providers can play a key role in prevention efforts."

The CDC recommends healthcare providers educate families on Zika prevention and provide all necessary testing and follow-up care related to the virus.

Birth defects associated with the Zika virus include microcephaly (an abnormally small head), brain damage, vision and hearing issues, seizures, problems with moving limbs and difficulty swallowing.

More articles on the Zika virus: 
NIH Zika vaccine trial advances, thousands to enroll 
With mosquito season approaching, Florida leaders work on new Zika plan: 7 things to know 
SLU researchers predict Zika hotspots in US

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