Margaret Honein, MPH, PhD, chief of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Birth Defects Branch in the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities updated health professionals at a special session on Zika virus infection during the 65th Annual EIS Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.
Researchers have learned a lot this year about the severe damage Zika virus can cause to the developing fetus, but many questions remain, said Margaret Honein, MPH, PhD, chief of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Birth Defects Branch in the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.
“If a woman is infected, does she have a 1% risk, a 25% risk or some other level of risk of having a baby affected by a major birth defect?” she asked her audience of CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service officers and other public health professionals at a special session on Zika virus infection during the 65th Annual EIS Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.
“We don’t know when during pregnancy the Zika virus infection poses the highest risk to the fetus, although based on other viral infections and the preliminary evidence, we expect that it will be during the first and early in the second trimester. We don’t know the full range of potential health problems that Zika virus infection can cause, and we don’t know what other factors, such as co-occurring infections, might impact the risk of birth defects,” she said.
After evaluating the epidemiologic, clinical, lab and pathological evidence, though, based on Shepherd’s criteria for teratogens and the Bradford Hill criteria for causation, the CDC concludes that Zika virus causes microcephaly and other brain anomalies, Dr. Honein noted.
Dr. Honein updated the audience about what researchers have learned about the impact of Zika infection on pregnant women and their babies. The updates are listed below:
Dr. Honein invited CDC’s EIS officers to join the agency’s “historic response” in the fight against Zika.
Lorraine L. Janeczko, MPH, is a medical science writer who creates news, continuing medical education and feature content in a wide range of specialties for clinicians, researchers and other readers. She has completed a Master of Public Health degree through the Department of Epidemiology of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a Dana Postdoctoral Fellowship in Preventive Public Health Ophthalmology from the Wilmer Eye Institute, the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Bloomberg School.
SOURCE: EIS 2016 Conference Program, p 29: Zika Virus and Pregnant Women: Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes