The CDC reports are based on an analysis of completed pregnancies (including live births and pregnancy losses, regardless of gestational age) in the 50 states and the District of Columbia with laboratory evidence of possible recent Zika virus infection reported to the USZPR from January 15 to December 27, 2016.
Also revealed in this study, some of the women were infected by mosquitoes here in the USA but all 51 babies with birth defects were traced to infections that occurred outside of the U.S.in one of 16 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico.
New evidence about the Zika virus and the potential link to defects in unborn babies came out this week. The Zika Active Pregnancy Surveillance System is a separate system to monitor pregnancies in Puerto Rico. Seven of the pregnancies resulted in losses with birth defects noted. The CDC said testing for Zika virus is complex, but of 250 women with confirmed infections, 24 (10%) had a fetus or baby with related birth defects.
Schuchat said that she hoped this report would help raise awareness among clinicians to do this type of imaging among babies at risk for Zika.
A New York City obstetrician-gynecologist agreed. The level was even higher-15%-in women infected during the first trimester of pregnancy. "Ongoing education of patients and providers is very important to monitoring infection and halting transmission". While 1 in 3 babies with possible congenital Zika viral infection had no report of Zika testing at the time of birth, 1 in 4 infants were reported to have received brain imaging post birth.
"I want to highlight the need for care and evaluation of these infants", she says.
In addition to funding more lab resources, Philip said the health department also will launch a program to coordinate care for infants born to mothers infected with Zika while pregnant.
It was found that in 44 states almost 1,300 pregnancies were reported to the USZPR with possibility of Zika virus infection. It has been known for some time that getting a Zika infection during the early part of a woman's pregnancy put the fetus at great risk.
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Most of these women acquired Zika virus infection during travel to an area with Zika. Any place that has the Aedes aegypti mosquito that carries Zika could see local outbreaks.
CBS News quoted acting CDC Director Dr. Anne Schuchat as saying: "Unfortunately, every mosquito bite carries a risk".
"Some seemingly healthy babies, born following pregnancies complicated by Zika, may have developmental problems that become evident months after birth", she said.
The CDC reported that, last year, 1,297 pregnant women from 44 states were reported with Zika virus. "This devastating outbreak is far from over, and the consequences are heartbreaking", Schuchat added. The registry includes data from all the states, the District of Columbia, and all USA territories except Puerto Rico, which has its own monitoring system.
A pregnant womanstands outside a maternity hospital in Singapore, Sept. 1, 2016.
Clinical experts reviewed reported information to ensure that each fetus or infant with birth defects met the criteria of the USZPR case definition. Infants without abnormalities born to women with an epidemiologic link suggesting possible Zika virus exposure during pregnancy, and for whom maternal testing was not performed or was performed more than 12 weeks after exposure, should have a comprehensive exam.
Now there is no licensed vaccine to prevent disease caused by Zika infection.