IRMS – Experts on Reproductive Medicine Update You on Zika 2017 CDC Findings

Zika-affected pregnancies

For those existing patients of IRMS you know we take the Zika virus very seriously, and may have even advised against your taking vacations to Zika-infected areas while on your journey with us.

We wanted to share information on a recently published study by the CDC so you are aware of the issues Zika presents to women trying to conceive.

A new study recently published by the CDC reemphasizes the continued risk of Zika to couples trying to conceive. After following 2,549 pregnant women living in U.S. territories with person-to-person Zika transmission, all of whom completed their pregnancies between January 1, 2016 and April 25, 2017, the study found that “five percent of pregnant women with a confirmed Zika infection… went on to have a baby with a related birth defect” (New York Times).

Previously untested was the influence of time of the mother’s infection on birth outcomes, but this study provided some answers. The CDC found that the risk of birth defects in children of infected pregnant women is reduced from 8% if infected in the first trimester, to 5% in the second, and 4% in the third, but doctors warn the risk is still serious no matter what the results say. (Reuters).

Of all the women involved in the study, 97% had a live birth while 3% miscarried (Los Angeles Times). 122 participants gave birth to babies with birth defects or experienced a loss of the pregnancy (Washington Post). These defects included microcephaly, damage to the baby’s eyes and/or hearing, and limited mobility of their arms and legs. Zika is particularly threatening to a baby’s developing brain, as Peggy Honein, leader of the CDC Zika Response’s Pregnancy and Birth Defects Task Force explained in a statement to TIME: 89% of the affected babies within this study suffered from a brain abnormality (Los Angeles Times).

Only about 1,500 of the participating women had laboratory-confirmed diagnoses of Zika prior to giving birth, and many exhibited no symptoms throughout the process (New York Times). Some asymptomatic women gave birth to affected babies while some women who did experience Zika symptoms gave birth to unaffected babies. Scientists say there seems to be no clear connection between the mother’s experience of Zika and the effect on the child—and symptoms may develop later in an infant who is born apparently unaffected, reinforcing the need for continued monitoring of the infant after birth (New York Times, Washington Post).

This new study strengthens findings from an earlier report, which had a smaller sample size and did not include Puerto Rico in the areas studied (Reuters).

For couples currently trying to conceive, affected areas can be found on the continually updated CDC site here. Please consult when making travel plans to ensure the healthiest outcomes for you and your family.

If you have any further questions or concerns about Zika and how it and other diseases may affect your fertility and future pregnancies – please reach out to us. We are a team of passionate fertility experts with multiple offices throughout New Jersey. You can reach us at (973) 322–8286 or fill out our contact form. We look forward to helping you.

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