Health agency reports U.S. babies with
Zika-related birth defects
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[June 17, 2016]
By Bill Berkrot
(Reuters) - Three babies have been born in
the United States with birth defects linked to likely Zika virus
infections in the mothers during pregnancy, along with three cases of
lost pregnancies linked to Zika, federal health officials said on
The six cases reported as of June 9 were included in a new U.S. Zika
pregnancy registry created by the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention. The agency said it will begin regular reporting of poor
outcomes of pregnancies with laboratory evidence of possible Zika
virus infection in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Zika has caused alarm throughout the Americas since numerous cases
of the birth defect microcephaly linked to the mosquito-borne virus
were reported in Brazil, the country hardest hit by the current
outbreak. The rare birth defect is marked by unusually small head
size and potentially severe developmental problems.
The U.S. cases so far involve women who contracted the virus outside
the United States in areas with active Zika outbreaks, or were
infected through unprotected sex with an infected partner. There
have not yet been any cases reported of local transmission of the
virus in the United States. Health experts expect local transmission
to occur as mosquito season gets underway with warmer weather,
especially in Gulf Coast states, such as Florida and Texas.
The CDC declined to provide details of the three cases it reported
on Thursday, but said all had brain abnormalities consistent with
congenital Zika virus infection. Two U.S. cases of babies with
microcephaly previously were reported in Hawaii and New Jersey.
The poor birth outcomes reported include those known to be caused by
Zika, such as microcephaly and other severe fetal defects, including
calcium deposits in the brain indicating possible brain damage,
excess fluid in the brain cavities and surrounding the brain, absent
or poorly formed brain structures and abnormal eye development, the
"The pattern that we're seeing here in the U.S. among travelers is
very similar to what we're seeing in other places like Colombia and
Brazil," Dr. Denise Jamieson, co-leader of the CDC Zika pregnancy
task force, said in a telephone interview.
Authorities in Brazil have confirmed more than 1,400 cases of
microcephaly in babies whose mothers were exposed to Zika during
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Lost pregnancies include miscarriage, stillbirths and terminations
with evidence of the birth defects. The CDC did not specify the
nature of the three reported lost pregnancies, citing privacy
concerns about pregnancy outcomes.
The CDC established its registry to monitor pregnancies for a broad
range of poor outcomes linked to Zika. It said it plans to issue
updated reports every Thursday intended to ensure that information
about pregnancy outcomes linked with the Zika virus is publicly
The CDC said the information is essential for planning for clinical,
public health and other services needed to support pregnant women
and families affected by Zika.
"We're hoping this underscores the importance of pregnant women not
traveling to areas of ongoing Zika virus transmission if possible,
and if they do need to travel to ensure that they avoid mosquito
bites and the risk of sexual transmission," Jamieson said.
(Reporting by Bill Berkrot; Editing by Will Dunham)
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