Delaying Pregnancy Could Reduce Risk of Zika Infection

But delaying pregnancy for six months or less linked to increase in prenatal infections


TUESDAY, July 26, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- For the population of Colombia, pregnancy delays of sufficient duration can reduce the risk of prenatal Zika virus infections, according to research published online July 26 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Martial L. Ndeffo-Mbah, Ph.D., from Yale School of Public Health in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues examined the effectiveness of pregnancy-delay policies on the incidence and prevalence of prenatal Zika virus infection in Colombia. A vector-borne Zika virus transmission model was fitted to epidemiologic data from 2015 to 2016 for Colombia. The risk of Zika infection was examined according to recommendations to delay pregnancy by three, six, nine, 12, or 24 months, at different adherence levels.

The researchers found that the cumulative incidence of prenatal Zika virus infection was likely to decrease by 17 to 44 percent with 50 percent adherence to recommendations to delay pregnancy by nine to 24 months. Prenatal infections were likely to increase by 2 to 7 percent with recommendations to delay pregnancy by six months or less. This increase is due to an elevated risk for pregnancies to shift toward the peak of the outbreak.

"Pregnancy delays can have a substantial effect on reducing cases of microcephaly but run the risk of exacerbating the Zika virus outbreak if not of sufficient duration," the authors write. "Careful consideration must be given to the duration of the delay, population adherence, and the timing of initiation of the intervention."

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