The Zika virus is most concerning for women who are pregnant or may become pregnant who live in or plan on traveling to areas where Zika virus is found. It seems prudent that pregnant women follow special precautions when it comes to contracting this virus. If you are pregnant, here is a rundown of what you really need to know.
What Is Known
The CDC contends that pregnant women are no more susceptible to the Zika virus than any other person and there’s no reason to suspect that the disease is more severe in women who are pregnant.
There have, however, been reports of babies being born to infected mothers that have microcephaly, or small head size. Scientists are unable to make an absolute link between the cases of microcephaly and Zika virus at this time, but studies are currently being done to determine it.
If You Are Pregnant and Traveling
The CDC is recommending at this time that all pregnant women should postpone any travel to places where Zika virus is active. If you are pregnant and supposed to travel to one of these areas, you should speak with your doctor about it before you go. If you absolutely have to travel while pregnant you should take extra precautions to avoid mosquito bites when you are there.
Pregnant Women and Their Partners
If you are pregnant and your partner is traveling to an area with active Zika infection you should either not have sex or use condoms to protect yourself. The Zika virus can be sexually transmitted and then transmitted from the mother to the fetus through the placenta, so all precautions should be taken.
If you are concerned that you may have contracted Zika virus and are pregnant there are tests that can be performed to check. You can have your blood drawn and tested as well as amniotic fluid. After birth, the umbilical cord can be tested, as can the placenta and cord.
Amniotic fluid is checked through a test called an amniocentesis. To have it done your doctor must use a needle to extract fluid from your amniotic sac. If you have traveled to areas where Zika virus is active and has reported 2 or more the symptoms within a couple of weeks of traveling then you may want to consider it. A positive result can help you and your doctor to plan for the delivery and the neonatal care that should be available to your baby after delivery.
There are risks associated with this test, so talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits before you decide if you want to have it done.
If you are pregnant you should take extra precautions to protect yourself from the Zika virus. If you have other questions check the CDC website or speak with your doctor.