Women who are pregnant — or who are considering becoming pregnant —
may be worried about the Zika virus. The virus
causes a serious birth defect called microcephaly, which is when
a baby has a small head and brain. Zika also has been linked to other serious problems in babies, such as eye defects, hearing
loss, and growth problems.
The virus is a particular threat in Latin America,
the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands, where several thousand babies have been born
with microcephaly. Zika-spreading mosquitoes have also been found in the United States
(Florida and Puerto Rico). Some people in the U.S. have Zika infections. There is
no vaccine or treatment for Zika or microcephaly.
Most people who get infected with Zika do not get sick at all and do not even know
that they are infected. Those who do get sick usually get mildly ill with symptoms
such as fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. The virus can be passed from mothers
to babies during pregnancy.
Here are 5 things to know about Zika and pregnancy:
1. Pregnant women (and women trying to get pregnant) should not travel
to areas that are currently affected by the Zika outbreak. The U.S. Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention is monitoring the countries where people have the virus.
2. If you live in or must travel to countries where the Zika virus is most
active, consider postponing becoming pregnant. A woman who develops
a Zika infection should wait at least 8 weeks before trying to get pregnant. A male
partner who develops a Zika infection should wait at least 6 months. Even if they have no symptoms, women should wait at least 8 weeks after traveling
to a Zika-infected area before trying to get pregnant, and men should wait 6 months,
since a person can catch the virus and have no symptoms at all.
If you are already pregnant, use a condom during sex throughout the pregnancy or
do not have sex during the pregnancy. This also applies to couples where only the
male partner has lived in or traveled to an area with Zika virus, even if the woman
Even couples who are not pregnant or not trying to get pregnant should use condoms
during sex for at least 6 months after one the partners has traveled to a Zika-infested
area. This will help reduce spread of the virus.
3. Try to avoid mosquito bites if you live in or must travel to countries
where the Zika virus is most active. To avoid getting bitten:
Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
Stay in homes that have air conditioning or window screens.
Wear mosquito repellent that is safe for pregnant women. The U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) has information on repellents.
Dump standing water (such as in children's swimming pools and rainwater in flower
pots and old tires), which attracts mosquitoes.
4. Get a blood test and/or urine test if you are pregnant and have either
lived in or traveled to areas where Zika is active. This is especially
important if you now have or have had Zika symptoms. Talk to your doctor if you are
concerned that your male partner has lived in or traveled to those areas and may have
had a Zika infection. An ultrasound also can show if the baby is developing normally.
(If you don't live in a Zika-affected area and have not traveled to one, you do not
need these tests, even if you are pregnant.)
5. Talk with your doctor, because
the Zika situation can change.
Health experts are studying the impact of Zika on mothers and their babies. As more
information is known, guidelines could change. Check the CDC's website for the most current updates.