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Zika virus: First-trimester infection may carry up to 13% risk of microcephaly

CDC and Harvard researchers used data from Brazil to analyze the risks when expectant moms contract Zika during pregnancy.

After analyzing data from the epicenter of the Zika virus outbreak in Brazil, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health reached a sobering conclusion: For expectant moms who contract Zika during their first trimester, there’s a 1 to 13% chance that their unborn child will develop microcephaly.

The findings, reported by the Washington Post, found a strong link between Zika infection during the first trimester and microcephaly risk, but a negligible link for moms who contract the virus during their second and third trimester of pregnancy.

Michael A. Johansson, PhD, the study’s lead author, noted that although much more research is needed, the study’s findings are clear. “It is an appreciable risk,” he said. “We need to do whatever we can to help women avoid Zika virus infections during pregnancy.”

To learn more, read the study in the New England Journal of Medicine or read the Washington Post’s coverage of the research.

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