COCA Now: Population-Based Surveillance of Birth Defects Potentially Related to Zika Virus Infection — 15 States and U.S. Territories, 2016

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Population-Based Surveillance of Birth Defects Potentially Related to Zika Virus Infection — 15 States and U.S. Territories, 2016

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New CDC report shows Zika is still a threat to mothers and babies in U.S. areas with local transmission. CDC researchers found a 21% increase in birth defects most strongly linked to Zika virus infection in pregnancy during the last half of 2016.

Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects, including microcephaly and brain abnormalities. Population-based birth defects surveillance systems are critical to monitor all infants and fetuses with birth defects potentially related to Zika virus infection, regardless of known exposure or laboratory evidence of Zika virus infection during pregnancy. CDC analyzed data from 15 U.S. jurisdictions conducting population-based surveillance for birth defects potentially related to Zika virus infection.

The report, published on January 26, 2018 in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), provides the first comprehensive data on the prevalence of birth defects (3.0 per 1,000 live births) potentially related to Zika virus infection in a birth cohort of nearly 1 million births in 2016. A significant increase in birth defects strongly related to Zika virus during the second half of 2016 compared with the first half was observed in jurisdictions with local Zika virus transmission. Only a small percentage of birth defects potentially related to Zika had laboratory evidence of Zika virus infection, and most were not tested for Zika virus.

The U.S. Zika Pregnancy and Infant Registry monitors women with laboratory evidence of possible Zika virus infection during pregnancy and their congenitally exposed infants, population-based birth defects surveillance systems make a unique contribution by identifying and monitoring all cases of these birth defects regardless of exposure or laboratory testing or results. Continued surveillance for birth defects potentially related to Zika virus infection is important because most pregnancies affected by Zika virus ended in 2017. These data will help communities plan for needed resources to care for affected patients and families and can serve as a foundation for linking and evaluating health and developmental outcomes of affected children.

For the most current information about Zika virus, visit this page and this page.

Visit Zika Care Connect (ZCC) to see a searchable database of specialists who care for infants with congenital Zika virus infection in several U.S. states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.