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CDC: ~5 Percent of Pregnancies With Zika Result in Birth Defects

Birth defects can occur following infection during any trimester

microscopic view of zika virus

FRIDAY, June 9, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- About one in 20 women in the U.S. territories who were infected with Zika during pregnancy had babies with possible Zika-associated birth defects, according to research published in the June 8 early-release issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The data were compiled from American Samoa, Puerto Rico, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Marshall Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands from Jan. 1, 2016, to April 25, 2017. The researchers reviewed 2,549 cases of pregnant women in the U.S. territories with possible Zika virus infection.

Among these pregnancies, 122 (5 percent) resulted in a fetus or infant with possible Zika-associated birth defects. Among women with completed pregnancies, 1,561 reported signs or symptoms compatible with Zika virus infection during pregnancy. The birth defect percentage rate was similar for women with and without symptoms of infection (5 percent among symptomatic and 4 percent among asymptomatic women). Among completed pregnancies with positive nucleic acid tests confirming Zika infection, the birth defect percentage was 8 percent for infection in the first trimester, 5 percent in the second trimester, and 4 percent in the third trimester. In accordance with CDC guidelines, 59 percent of these infants were tested for Zika at birth, 52 percent underwent postnatal neuroimaging, and 79 percent had their hearing screened at birth.

"The defects caused by Zika are not always obvious at birth," Anne Schuchat, M.D., acting director of the CDC, told HealthDay. "That's why identification of and follow-up care of babies with possible Zika virus infection is crucial -- it ensures that babies get the proper care."

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