Family Planning

Ask Sofia: How Worried Should I be about the Zika Virus?

This is a question we’re hearing from more and more women, pregnant or not.

The Zika virus is transmitted by infected mosquitoes, which generally breed in warm climates. For most adults, the symptoms are relatively mild and short-lived; they can include headaches, fever, red eyes (conjunctivitis) and joint pain. However, the virus can lead to microcephaly in babies, a condition where the head is smaller than expected, and babies with microcephaly often have smaller brains due to lack of development during pregnancy. Microcephaly has also been linked to seizures, developmental delays, hearing loss, feeding issues and vision problems.

“If you are pregnant, we advise no travel to any of the countries in the Caribbean and South America where outbreaks have been reported. While changing travel plans is inconvenient, it’s always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to your baby’s health,” said Dr. Amy Hammers. “There are plenty of great options for a warm-weather babymoon where you don’t have to worry so much about infection.”

The U.S. government has launched research into a vaccine for the Zika virus, however, vaccine development typically takes several years. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has encouraged pregnant women to change their travel plans to countries with recent outbreaks. Other prevention methods include using insect repellant, wearing long sleeves and pants to cover as much of the skin as possible, and avoiding mosquito breeding grounds.

For the latest information, visit the CDC’s website and be sure to discuss any concerns or questions you have with your doctor.

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