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Does Zika Infection During Pregnancy Impact Stress Levels?

Carmen Zorrilla, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology, University of Puerto Rico, School of Medicine, explains her study which stress, depression, and anxiety levels in pregnant women in Puerto Rico with and without Zika infection.

Carmen Zorrilla, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology, University of Puerto Rico, School of Medicine, explains her study which stress, depression, and anxiety levels in pregnant women in Puerto Rico with and without Zika infection.

Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)

“[At the First International Conference on Zika Virus, we presented] an evaluation of stress, depression, and anxiety among pregnant women, half of [whom] have Zika infection during pregnancy, and about 200 of [whom] are negative for Zika, but are living in an environment where there’s a Zika epidemic.

I was very much aware of what [normal] stressors are during pregnancy, and wanted to know whether the Zika epidemic [caused] additional stress and anxiety. We did all of these questionnaires that are validated, [on] general anxiety, [and] depression scores.

What we found was that, even though stress levels increase in pregnancy among women in Puerto Rico during the Zika epidemic, [there were no] differences between the women with Zika diagnosis and the women without Zika.

I believe [this] is because, first of all, we started the questionnaires when the women were already in pre-natal care, and we do have a model of pre-natal care (group pre-natal care, called Centering). Centering allows women to come in groups [and] to bring their significant others. I do believe that connection serves like a support group, in a way. That allows for stress [levels] to lower, for people to share information, for people to disclose and have that communication with other people [in similar situations]. This is why I believe I was not able to find differences in stress in pregnant women with Zika and without.”