One in 10 pregnant women with confirmed Zika virus infections had an infant or fetus who showed signs of birth defects, according to a new report from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. Singapore reported the first case of pregnant woman with Zika virus infection, among 24 newly reported cases of locally transmitted Zika virus, the country's Health Ministry said on Wednesday. Much of the country may have experienced a brief reprieve from the virus, but it's about to be back on many parents' minds for one understandable reason: As a recent report detailed the newly-alarming number of Zika-related birth defects in the United States, some parents are justifiably concerned that the number will continue to rise. "With warmer weather, a new mosquito season and summer travel, prevention is crucial to protect the health of mothers and babies". They also urged health providers to educate families on Zika prevention, provide all needed testing and follow-up care, and support affected babies and their families.
For the report, the researchers analyzed information from about 1,300 USA pregnant women in 44 states who had a possible Zika virus infection in 2016.
Almost 1,300 pregnant women with evidence of possible Zika infection were reported to the registry.
While microcephaly, or having a smaller-than-normal head, has become the symbol of Zika's impact on newborns, researchers have since documented a still incomplete laundry list of problems the virus is capable of causing - from hidden brain damage to frozen-in-place joints and blindness. Some babies born after exposure in utero to Zika develop vision or hearing problems, as well as other brain abnormalities that don't emerge until later in development.
About 1 in 3 babies with possible Zika infection had no report of Zika testing at birth. Of women with a confirmed Zika infection during the first trimester, 15 percent of the infants or fetuses had Zika-related birth defects, according to the CDC. Zika testing remains complex because there is a narrow timeframe for obtaining a positive laboratory result, and many infected people do not have symptoms, the CDC said.
Most of the women acquired Zika during travel to an area where the virus was known to be present. She said the CDC is still receiving about 30 to 40 reports of pregnant women infected with Zika virus each week.
"I think it is very likely that we are underestimating the birth defects that follow Zika in pregnancy", Schuchat said. Philip said that as of March 27, the health department was waiting for the CDC to deliver Zika test results for about 26 cases, including 16possible infections from 2016 and 10this year.
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Last year, a backlog of Zika test results led to hundreds of patients, a lot of them pregnant women, waiting months to receive their results.
Schuchat said that she hoped this report would help raise awareness among clinicians to do this type of imaging among babies at risk for Zika.
The findings from this report confirm the serious threat posed by Zika virus infection during pregnancy and the critical need for pregnant women to continue taking steps to prevent Zika virus exposure through mosquito bites and sexual transmission.
The study comes from the CDC's Zika pregnancy registry, which includes data from the continental United States and all USA territories except Puerto Rico.
Zika infection during pregnancy also has been linked to miscarriage and stillbirth.
Looking only at lab-confirmed cases of Zika infection, researchers found that about 1 in 10 pregnant women had a fetus or baby with birth defects.
Vital Signs is a report that appears as part of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.