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CDC: Colombia Sees Increase in Zika-Related Microcephaly

Research suggests greatest risk for Zika-related microcephaly occurs in the first half of pregnancy

microscopic view of zika virus

MONDAY, Dec. 12, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Colombia is now experiencing a sharp increase in cases of infant microcephaly, according to research published in the Dec. 9 early-release issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

A team led by Margaret Honein, Ph.D., of the CDC in Atlanta, reported that between Jan. 31, 2016, and mid-November 2016, there were 476 cases of microcephaly in Colombia, a four-fold increase from the same period in 2015. There were nine times as many cases of microcephaly in July 2016 than in July 2015, the researchers said.

The researchers also found that the peak in cases of microcephaly in Colombia occurred about six months after the highest numbers of new Zika infections were reported. This suggests that the greatest risk for Zika-related microcephaly likely arises in the first half of pregnancy -- especially the first trimester and early in the second trimester.

The findings show that an increase in microcephaly cases is not restricted to Brazil, and that other countries with Zika outbreaks are likely to have large increases in microcephaly and other Zika-related birth defects, according to a news release from the CDC.

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