The Zika virus may increase the risk that a pregnant woman has a child with certain birth defects by up to 20-fold, according to a new study.
Researchers looked at data on infants both before the spread of the Zika virus and after to understand the risk of the virus on a developing fetus, according to a study published in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The mosquito-borne Zika virus often causes mild symptoms in adults but has been found to cause birth defects, including microcephaly, after it spread to the Americas last year. Microcephaly is characterized by a malformed or smaller head and brain, and can result in serious developmental delays.
Common symptoms of the Zika virus include fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis, according to the CDC. Approximately one in five people infected with the virus show symptoms. Severe complications from the virus that require hospitalization are rare, according to the CDC.
In order to estimate the risk to the fetus if a pregnant woman is infected with the Zika virus, the researchers analyzed data from the U.S. Zika Pregnancy Registry (USZPR) and compared it to birth defect surveillance data collected from Massachusetts, North Carolina and Georgia between 2013 to 2014.
They examined the…