CDC Confirms Link between Zika Virus and Certain Birth Defects
Scientists at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say evidence now fully supports the claims that the Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects. Doctors first made the connection after seeing a spike in the number of microcephaly cases after the outbreak first began in Brazil. However, since then it’s only been an assumed connection, until now.
The CDC calls this a “turning point” in the Zika outbreak. The findings mean a pregnant woman infected with Zika has an increased risk of having a baby with these health problems. It does not mean that all pregnant women infected by the virus will give birth to a child with these health problems. Experts say some women who have been infected by the Zika virus during this outbreak have given birth to children who appear to be healthy.
Scientists say while this is a big breakthrough in Zika virus research, there are still many more studies underway, which will help answer even further remaining questions and could help improve prevention efforts. Meanwhile, there are also efforts underway to curb the spread of the virus by attacking the mosquitoes that carry it.
The CDC recommends that pregnant women avoid traveling to areas with active Zika virus circulation. It also recommends that couples who live in areas where the virus is active, to engage in pregnancy planning and counseling with their health care providers. Pregnant women should also use protection or avoid sex with male partners who have lived in or visited areas with Zika virus.