Expectant moms should still pay attention to Zika
Think Zika was last year’s concern for pregnant women? Think again! What pregnant women need to know to avoid the Zika virus.
A recent analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that about 10% of pregnant women in the United States who were infected with the Zika virus had fetuses or babies with serious birth defects. For women who were infected with Zika during their first trimester of pregnancy, the risk of birth defects increased to about 15%.
These numbers are higher than what U.S. health officials previously reported and may still be underestimating the actual risk since about one-third of babies with possible exposure to Zika during pregnancy were not tested for the virus after birth. The reported numbers are more than 30 times higher than rates of similar birth defects in the U.S. reported before the start of the Zika outbreak.
What does this mean to you if you are pregnant?
It means you should be taking as many precautions as possible to avoid contracting the Zika virus. Here are a few things pregnant women should do to protect themselves and their unborn babies:
- Prevent mosquito bites. With warmer weather upon us, mosquitoes will be more abundant. That doesn’t mean every mosquito potentially carries the Zika virus, but it’s best to avoid getting bitten by any type of mosquito. To help prevent mosquito bites, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, use an insect repellant, make sure windows and doors have screens and remove any standing water around your home.
- Avoid travel to active Zika areas. Travel to areas known to have high rates of Zika infection, such as Brazil, Puerto Rico, Central America and the Caribbean, can increase your risk of getting the virus. U.S. states such as Florida, Texas and Hawaii are also areas where Zika transmission is more likely to occur.
- Take precautions against sexual transmission. You don’t only have to worry about how to protect yourself from getting bitten by a Zika-carrying mosquito. The virus can also be spread through sex, so if your partner is infected with the virus (even with no symptoms), it can be passed on to you. Condoms can reduce the chance of getting Zika from sex.