C.D.C. urges conception delay for Zika-exposed

Mar 25, 2016, 9:22 PM EDT
(Source: Katia Schulz/flickr)
(Source: Katia Schulz/flickr)
Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that they had decided to recommend a waiting period for couples looking to get pregnant based on recent information about the Zika virus. They have issued a suggested wait-time for conception for those who have been exposed to Zika. Reuters reports:
U.S. health officials are recommending that women wait at least two months, and men at least six, before attempting to conceive after infection with Zika, a virus linked to thousands of suspected cases of birth defects in Brazil.
The new guidance, issued on Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, follows prior recommendations by the agency that focused on preventing infections in women who were already pregnant.
Health officials also said they plan to expand the availability of more effective contraceptives in Puerto Rico, the first U.S. territory to report a Zika outbreak, with 261 cases reported to date and thousands more expected in the coming months. The virus was first detected in Brazil last year and has spread rapidly through Latin America and the Caribbean.
“We’re learning more every day, and evidence of a link between Zika and a spectrum of birth outcomes is becoming stronger and stronger,” said Dr. Denise J. Jamieson, one of the leaders of the pregnancy and birth defects team, which is part of the C.D.C.’s Zika virus response team.
She added, “We’ve become more concerned” about the period around the time of conception. “For people who either have the Zika disease or who travel to an area with active Zika transmission, we are now recommending they wait a period of time before trying to get pregnant.”
Most people who are infected never have symptoms, though, so the CDC said a blood test that’s positive for Zika would be another reason people should put pregnancy plans on hold.
People catch the virus mainly through mosquito bites, but it can also be passed through sex.
For most people, the infection is mild and goes away after a week or so, but it can be very dangerous for pregnant women. Recent studies have strongly linked the virus to an increased risk for miscarriage, stillbirth and birth defects -- particularly microcephaly, where a baby is born with a smaller-than-normal head and brain.