Zika Virus and Pregnant Women

Zika Virus and Pregnant Women

Everyone is talking about Zika! The virus is transmitted through infected mosquitos. Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, along with parts of South America, have documented transmission of the virus and pregnant women who live in or travel to these areas are at risk of infection. Infection during pregnancy may or may not be accompanied by symptoms and has been associated with microcephaly. No treatment is available at this time.

The most important thing to remember is that our knowledge about several key areas remains limited and recommendations for care of obstetric patients are in a state of evolution as new information comes available.

Excerpts of Updated Guidance for adult women:

  • Antibody testing for Zika virus is now recommended for all pregnant women who have traveled to an affected area regardless of the presence of clinical illness.
  • Health care providers should discuss reproductive life plans, including pregnancy intention and timing, with women of reproductive age in the context of the potential risks associated with Zika virus infection.

Excerpts of Updated Guidance for newborns:

  • Testing of infants who were born to mothers who traveled to or resided in areas affected by Zika virus during pregnancy should be guided by 1) whether the infant had microcephaly or intracranial calcifications detected prenatally or at birth and 2) the mother’s Zika virus testing results.

Testing for Zika virus and for antibodies to it is occurring primarily at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For more specific information, contact your local Health Department – they can provide information and facilitate testing through the appropriate resources.

You can get up-to-date management recommendations on the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) website: www.immunizationforwomen.org.

In addition, other important resources are available through the CDC including:

http://www.cdc.gov/zika/hc-providers/index.html or http://www.cdc.gov/zika/pregnancy/index

Areas of Transmission//Travel Advisories: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-information

The materials for patients are available in English and Spanish.

By Dr. Lisa Hollier, MD MPH
Chief Medical Officer

Texas Children’s Health Plan
Professor, Maternal-Fetal Medicine
Director, Health Policy Division,
Baylor College of Medicine

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