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Baby your Baby: What we do and don't know about Zika and pregnancy

Baby your Baby: What we do and don't know about Zika and pregnancy

(KUTV) Nurse Dani from Intermountain Moms talked about how Zika affects pregnancy.

A lot of people have questions about Zika Virus and specifically, how it affects pregnancy. Even if it's not deemed an immediate threat in our state, it might become one in the future and you have to think about it if you are traveling as well. The truth is we're still learning a lot about it and there are things we know and things we don't know:

What we do know:

  • The Zika virus can be spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus.
  • Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects.
  • Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected species of mosquito.
  • Zika is not currently found in the continental United States. The mosquitoes that can carry Zika are found in some areas of the U.S.
  • Because the mosquitoes that spread Zika are found throughout the tropics, outbreaks will likely occur.
  • Currently, there is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.
  • Zika can be spread by a man through sexual contact and for this reason, if your male partner lives in or travels to an area affected by Zika, you should use condoms every time or practice abstinence during pregnancy.

What we don't know:

  • We don't know if there's a safe time during pregnancy to travel to an area with Zika.
  • We don't know how likely you are to become infected if you travel and get bitten by mosquitoes.
  • We don't know how likely it is that a pregnant woman will have a baby born with birth defects related to the infection.

If you travel to or have traveled to an affected area, ACOG (The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) recommends antibody testing, regardless of symptoms. Let your doctor know if you have traveled to Central America, Southern America, Cape Verde in Africa, American Samoa, Samoa, or Tonga. Pregnant women in any trimester of pregnancy should consider postponing travel to these areas. If you do go, talk with your OB provider first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites while traveling.

**Note: Microcephaly is a birth defect associated with Zika virus and it is a condition where a baby's head is much smaller than expected. During pregnancy, a baby's head grows because the baby's brain grows. Microcephaly can occur because a baby's brain has not developed properly during pregnancy or has stopped growing after birth, which results in a smaller head size. Microcephaly can be an isolated condition, meaning that it can occur with no other major birth defects, or it can occur in combination with other major birth defects.

**Symptoms are usually mild and include: fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes.

**Precautions include: wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants, treat your clothing with permethrin (insect repellent that shouldn't be used on the skin, but is used to treat clothes), stay in places that have windows or screens that will keep mosquitoes out, sleep under a mosquito bed net if sleeping outdoors. When it comes to insect repellents, used Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered repellents. If using with sunscreen, apply sunscreen first.