How Does the Zika Virus Affect Pregnancy?

Posted May 9, 2016 by Stacy Bolzenius

How Does the Zika Virus Affect Pregnancy?

The recent outbreak of the Zika virus poses a potential threat to women who live in affected regions, as well as some women in the United States. Women of reproductive age should know that the Zika virus can cause serious birth defects.

Here’s what’s currently known about the virus, along with The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ (ACOG) recommendations for women who are or may become pregnant.

How is the Zika Virus Transmitted?

The Zika virus is primarily spread through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. According to the ACOG, the Zika virus can be transmitted through sexual intercourse with someone who is infected. Therefore, anyone who has traveled to or plans on visiting an endemic country is potentially at risk of contracting the disease. Additionally, any women whose sexual partners have been in an impacted area could also get the virus.

How Does the Zika Virus Affect Women and Fetuses?

In adults, including pregnant women, the Zika virus usually either doesn’t produce and symptoms or causes mild illness, the ACOG reports. Pregnant women can transmit the virus to fetuses, though, which it has devastating effects on.

When transmitted to a fetus, the Zika virus can cause microcephaly. Microcephaly is a disorder that causes an infant’s head to be smaller than normal.

The ACOG recommends that women who plan on traveling to a region where the Zika virus is present talk with a physician before going to the country.

What Does the ACOG Recommend?

The ACOG recommends that women who plan on traveling to a region where the Zika virus is present talk with a physician before going to the country. A women’s health specialist can help women understand the risks that the Zika virus poses, and they can provide a contraceptive if necessary. When in-country, women should also take steps to prevent mosquito bites.

The ACOG also notes that the CDC has set up a clinical consultation phone line that OB/GYNs can call to discuss specific cases of the Zika virus. This helpline is available around the clock.

Finally, OG/GYNs must report any potential cases of the Zika virus to their respective health agency. Both confirmed and unconfirmed cases must be reported. This will help the CDC collect information on the recent outbreak.

Stay Up To Date

The Zika outbreak is just the latest change in women’s health care. There are always new outbreaks and advances in medicine, and it’s important to stay on top of all the current changes.

To ensure you’re familiar with the latest trends in women’s health and earn your required CME credits, call us to learn about how Perinatal Resources can help. We offer a number of online, audio and in-person courses that detail how the field is changing, and all of our courses are taught by knowledgeable and respected faculty members.

If you’re an OB/GYN, talk with us. We can help you discover which courses are most appropriate for you and meet your requirements for CME credits.