About one in 10 pregnant women with confirmed Zika infections had a fetus or baby with birth defects, offering the clearest picture yet of the risk of Zika infection during pregnancy, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.
The report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the first to analyze a group of U.S. women with clear, confirmed test results of Zika infection during pregnancy.
Once considered a mild disease, a large outbreak of the virus that began in Brazil in 2015 and quickly spread through the Americas revealed that the mosquito-borne virus can cause severe brain damage and microcephaly, or small head size, when women are exposed during pregnancy.
“Zika continues to be a threat to pregnant women across the U.S.,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, acting director of the CDC, said in a statement. “With warm weather and a new mosquito season approaching, prevention is crucial to protect the health of mothers and babies.”
Babies affected by Zika can develop congenital Zika syndrome, which includes brain abnormalities, vision problems, hearing loss, and problems moving limbs.