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Effects of Timing Conception to Avoid Congenital Zika Infection


Micaela Martinez, PhD, postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University, explains the effects of timing conception to avoid congenital Zika infection.

Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)

“The socioeconomic implications of planning pregnancy seasonally [is] largely going to depend on how many people do this. If 3% of women plan their pregnancies to be timed with regard to Zika, that’s going to be very different than if 50% of pregnancies are timed.

I’m not a sociologist or an economist so I can’t speak too much to that, but one thing that I can say is that based on my work on measles and based on my work on polio, large changes in human demography, [or] birth rates, can have very far-reaching implications for the transmission of childhood diseases.

Even though we can plan pregnancy and [shift] when infants come into the population with the specific intent of protecting pregnant women from Zika, that could have implications for the transmission of other childhood diseases. That’s because if you think of the transmission of a childhood disease, having new births into a population [means] we have new susceptibles coming into the population.

Infants are like kindling for a forest fire; if the childhood disease epidemic is a forest fire, then fresh infants are that kindling. By shifting when births happen, and shifting when you have susceptibles coming in, that could change the transmission for other childhood infections, even though we are shifting those pregnancies to avoid Zika. So, we can see lots of downstream consequences of this; we just don’t know what they will be.”
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