Zika Virus & Pregnancy

What We Know

  • Pregnant women can be infected with Zika virus.
    • The primary way that pregnant women get Zika virus is through the bite of an infected mosquito.
    • Zika virus can be spread by a man to his sex partners.
  • A pregnant woman can pass Zika virus to her fetus.
    • Zika virus can be passed from a pregnant women to her fetus during pregnancy or at delivery.

What We Do Not Know

  • If a pregnant woman is exposed it is not known how likely she is to get Zika.
  • If a pregnant woman is infected
    • We don’t know how the virus will affect her or her pregnancy.
    • We don’t know how likely it is that Zika will pass to her fetus.
    • We don’t know if the fetus is infected, if the fetus will develop birth defects.
    • We don’t know when in pregnancy the infection might cause harm to the fetus.
    • We don’t know whether her baby will have birth defects.
    • We don’t know if sexual transmission of Zika virus poses a different risk of birth defects than mosquito-borne transmission.

Zika And Microcephaly

Zika is not dangerous for most people however, Zika causes birth defects . One birth defect linked to Zika is a smaller than normal head this condition is called “microcephaly.” Health experts are still learning about the link between Zika and microcephaly.

Since May 2015, Brazil has experienced a significant outbreak of Zika virus. In recent months, Brazilian officials reported an increase in the number of babies born with microcephaly.

Since these initial reports of a link between Zika and microcephaly, researchers across the world began working to study the link between Zika during pregnancy and microcephaly. In a recent article, CDC scientists announced that there is now enough evidence to conclude that Zika virus infection during pregnancy is a cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects and has been linked to problems in infants, including eye defects, hearing loss, and impaired growth. Scientists are studying the full range of other potential health problems that Zika virus infection during pregnancy may cause.

*For more information on how Zika virus can affect pregnancy visit the CDC’s page here.