Zika Study Determines Your Chances of Having a Baby With Microcephaly

In spite of the hype, the odds may be lower than you think.
ByAnisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Published
Mar 2016
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Zika is probably linked to microcephaly in babies, but there’s still no definitive answer. Even if you do contract the mosquito-borne virus, only 20 percent show signs of symptoms. With all the uncertainty associated with Zika, it’s hard to gauge just how concerned you should be about what it means for you and your baby, or if you are trying to conceive. But new results from a 2013 case study of the Zika outbreak in French Polynesia (yep, Zika’s not new) is definitely quelling some fears.

According to the study, published in The Lancet, 66 percent of French Polynesians were infected with Zika at the height of the outbreak. When cross referencing that figure with microcephaly data, researchers found seven out of eight microcephaly cases occurred right after Zika’s peak in the region. And only infection in the first trimester statistically linked the two, as pediatrician and geneticist Dr. Ed McCabe, chief medical officer for the March of Dimes, previously told The Bump.

“The timing of these cases was best explained by a period of risk in the first trimester of pregnancy,” the study reads. “The risk of microcephaly associated with Zika virus infection was 95 cases per 10,000 women infected in the first trimester.

In other words, even if you contract Zika in the first trimester, your odds of giving birth to a baby with microcephaly are only 1 in 100, or one percent.

Still, to keep these odds even lower, stay up to date on the CDC’s Zika travel guidelines, and consider steering clear of Zika-infected areas if you’re pregnant.

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