Babies with Zika-related health problems continue to need attention

A new study reveals that among 1,450 babies who were exposed to Zika virus infection prenatally, approximately 1 in 7 who are now age 1 year or older had one or more health issues potentially caused by Zika exposure prior to birth.

A new study reveals that among 1,450 babies who were exposed to Zika virus infection prenatally, approximately 1 in 7 who are now age 1 year or older had one or more health issues potentially caused by Zika exposure prior to birth. CDC's latest Vital Signs report also notes that some of the problems were not apparent at birth. "We know that Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause serious health problems in babies, such as birth defects and vision problems, including conditions not always evident at birth," said CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD. "We are still learning about the full range of long-term health problems these babies could face." The study looked at about 4,800 pregnancies from the U.S. territories and freely associated states that had a laboratory result indicating possible or confirmed Zika virus infection during the past 2 years. Among these pregnancies, 1,450 babies were at least age 1 year by February 1, 2018, and had any followup care reported to the U.S. Zika Pregnancy and Infant Registry. The study noted opportunities for improvement in the screening and care these babies receive. According to the data, 95% of the 1,450 babes had at least one physical exam after 2 weeks of age; however, only 36% received the recommended eye exam by an eye specialist. Accompanying the report is updated CDC guidance for couples planning to become pregnant following possible Zika virus exposure. The new recommendations state that men with possible Zika virus exposure who are planning to conceive with their partner wait at least 3 months after symptoms or possible exposure. The shorter timeframe also applies to men who are not planning to conceive with their partners but who want to prevent transmission of Zika virus through intercourse. Emerging data suggests that the risk of infectious Zika virus in semen appears to drop substantially in the 3 months after symptom onset. All other Zika guidance is unchanged, CDC said.