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Confirmed Zika Infection Of Pregnant Women In The US Linked To Birth Defects [VIDEO]

Update Date: Apr 06, 2017 08:03 AM EDT

Almost 10 percent of confirmed Zika infection cases of pregnant women in the U.S. are linked to birth defects, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Health experts agree that the prevalence of birth defects related to Zika in pregnant women is a strong evidence for the dire effects of the virus especially during the first three months of pregnancy. At this stage, the risk was found to be as high as 15 percent.

CDC officials stressed that the statistics of birth defects similar to that in Zika-related cases was 30 times lower before the outbreak began. They expressed concern that only a quarter of these babies were checked for the likelihood of having defects after birth via brain imaging.

Testing babies who are at risk after birth are essential as more and more evidence shows that confirmed Zika infection is linked to birth defects. They are more likely to have congenital Zika syndrome which includes a severe form of microcephaly, a condition characterized by a head that is smaller than other children's of the same age. It may be accompanied by brain damage, damage to the eyes and difficulty with movement.

CDC warned pregnant women and those in the childbearing age to take precautionary measures to protect themselves against the virus. Traveling to areas with known outbreaks is being discouraged and safe sex needs to be practiced. Contrary to popular opinion, Zika can also be transmitted through sex. Men who returned from affected areas could be carrying the virus, the CBS News reported.

Preventing mosquito bites may be done with the use of insect repellents registered with the Environmental Protection Agency as these have active ingredients safe for pregnant women. CDC also urges people to wear clothing that can cover more skin surface such as pants and long-sleeved shirts, and to abstain from sex or use condoms.

Upon returning from a travel to high-risk areas, it is best to inform their health care provider about the trip, especially when symptoms such as fever with a rash, red eyes or joint pains appear, according to the CDC.

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