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I am getting a lot of nervous women about the Zika Virus in pregnancy. I wanted to do a post to give you the basics. As with all things disease you first turn to the CDC — they have a great page about it! I thought I’d boil it down for you.
Zika Virus in Pregnancy:
- Zika virus can be transmitted by both mosquitoes and by having a sex with a male partner with the disease (although, it doesn’t look like they know if this type of transmission also causes birth defects).
- Just because you are bitten by a mosquito with the Zika virus doesn’t mean you will get the Zika virus.
- Just because you get Zika, it doesn’t mean it will cause birth defects in your baby.
- If you go to the CDC page it is a lot of “we don’t know if….”
- There has been more Zika in Brazil AND there has been an increased incidence of Microcephaly
From the CDC as to what they do know:
“CDC scientists announced that there is now enough evidence to conclude that Zika virus infection during pregnancy is a cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects and has been linked to problems in infants, including eye defects, hearing loss, and impaired growth.”
However, microcephaly can also happen for several other reasons.
I was going to put a link here, but seriously don’t google it. Just know it happens and you have to hope it doesn’t happen to you.
Some reports have linked pyriproxyfen with the microcephaly. However, the CDC doesn’t believe that is the case, as that has been used to treat mosquitoes for years and they are only seeing the increased incidence of the microcephaly now.
They are also unclear if Zika could be to blame for other birth defects like vision/hearing loss.
Once you have had Zika, it does not pose a risk for future pregnancies, as far as they can tell — and, in fact, you’d be immune from the virus, most likely.
Ways to prevent getting Zika:
- Avoid travel to an area with Zika. As of April 20th, 2016 it looks like there have been zero cases of Zika caught in the US from a mosquito. There ARE cases of Zika that people have brought back to the US after travel.
- Take steps to prevent mosquito bites. Things like long sleeved shirts, mosquito repellent (I’ll talk more about that later) and staying indoors when mosquitoes are around.
- Prevent sexual transmission — head on back to health class circa age 14, people. 🙂
**If you have traveled to a Zika area, or your partner has, you should contact a health care provider.
There is currently not enough testing equipment to test women who have not traveled outside the US and are asymptomatic.
Also, keep in mind that there are a fair number of diseases, when caught in your first trimester, especially, can cause birth defects. Things like Measles, Fifth’s disease can be very problematic. Also, that’s why you don’t deal with cat litter when you’re pregnant, to prevent the TORCH diseases.
There are plenty of approved mosquito repellents on the market safe for both pregnant and breastfeeding women. There is even a search tool if you want to stay away from certain ingredients. I have also had good luck with essential oils repelling mosquitos. I use DoTerra’s Terra Shield.
I will say that I get eaten alive by mosquitoes when I’m pregnant. I think they can smell your extra blood volume, so I would say it’s important to stock up on repellent.
So,that’s what we know. There just seems to be a LOT of “don’t knows’s” out there. Just try to follow the advice, don’t travel to Brazil and use repellent when necessary.
As always, pregnancy is a crazy time. SO much can go wrong, and most often nothing does. Remember to keep that at the back of your mind. AND if you have more questions be SURE to talk to your healthcare provider!
If you like informative pregnancy posts like this one — be sure to sign up for my newsletter, and check out all my pregnancy posts below that. Also, I have a full prenatal class, chock full of just the advice you need to get you informed and on your way!