IRMS NJ comments on ASRM Case Study: Zika Infection in an IVF Pregnancy

A recent case study of the effect of Zika infection on a pregnant IVF patient brings new warnings about the dangers of the virus.1 The study was published in the latest edition of the journal of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), the regulatory body for the field of reproductive endocrinology.

About two and a half months after a successful round of IVF at a clinic in Caracas, Venezuela, the patient became infected with the Zika virus (ZIKV), and the infection discovered while she was 10 weeks pregnant. The virus was first suspected when the patient appeared with fever and a rash, and tests for dengue and chikungunya came back negative. The Zika test gave a positive result. Considering the early timing of the infection, doctors suspected the fetus would likely be affected, and so monitored the pregnancy closely.

An ultrasound at 12 weeks gestation, echography at 14 weeks + 3 days, and another ultrasound at 19 weeks all showed no fetal abnormalities. At 19 weeks, an amniocentesis confirmed the spread of the infection to the amniotic fluid and the mother’s urine.

Only in a second echography at 21 weeks + 4 days gestation did results show signs of fetal microcephaly and ventriculomegaly, more than 11 weeks after the mother’s initial diagnosis.

As the authors of the study state clearly in their paper, this study brings a sobering message to couples trying to conceive. They warn explicitly that even “early ultrasound findings in pregnancy may offer no lasting reassurance to couples; in this case, only at 21 weeks + 4 days of gestation did an ultrasound reveal microcephaly and ventriculomegaly in the fetus.”

Clearly, Zika infection can result in severe damage to a fetus and its development, even when no abnormalities have been detected at earlier stages of pregnancy. Data on the virus is still limited, but this case sends a clear message of the threat Zika poses to families anticipating the delivery of a healthy baby.

It is important to remember that with no vaccine, no treatment, and no completely accurate testing protocol, Zika is extremely difficult for doctors to monitor and control: couples trying to conceive must exercise incredible caution in their travel and daily habits as a preventative measure while undergoing or planning infertility treatments and pregnancy.

At IRMS our doctors advise using extreme caution while making travel plans to avoid all areas with known Zika virus, and always applying mosquito repellant before spending time outside.

We are committed to working with you to grow your family and sharing all the most up-to-date information to help you reach your family-building goals. If you have any questions, please contact us at 973.322.8286 or visit our contact form.


1 “Zika virus detected in amniotic fluid and umbilical cord blood in an in vitro fertilization-conceived pregnancy in Venezuela.” Benjamin, Isaac et al. Fertility and Sterility, Volume 107, Issue 6, 1319 – 1322.

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