1. Potera, Carol


Nurses play an important role in monitoring the health of these infants.


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The first report from the U.S. Zika Pregnancy and Infant Registry (USZPIR) finds that about one in seven babies exposed to Zika virus in utero has serious health problems. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) studied data from 1,450 babies born to mothers with confirmed exposure to Zika virus during pregnancy. These women lived in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Marshall Islands, and other U.S. jurisdictions.

Figure. Jessica Rios... - Click to enlarge in new window Jessica Rios holds niece Aryanna Guadalupe Sanchez-Rios as a technician measures the baby's skull at Seattle Children's Hospital. Aryanna's mother was diagnosed with Zika virus shortly before giving birth. Photo by Heidi de Marco / KHN.

By one year of age, 14% of the infants developed a range of problems linked to Zika: 6% had at least one Zika-related birth defect, such as microcephaly or brain and eye damage; 9% had neurodevelopmental abnormalities, such as seizures or difficulty swallowing; and 1% had both.


The USZPIR monitors women infected with Zika for any birth defects and neurodevelopmental abnormalities linked to the virus. Early identification and intervention of Zika-related health problems may improve cognitive, social, and behavioral outcomes in their children and is cost effective. Interventions during the first three years of life are especially helpful.


By one month of age, infants suspected of in-utero exposure to Zika should have cranial ultrasound or other brain imaging and eye evaluations. Among the 494 children who had eye examinations in this report, 2% had one eye anomaly. Prescription eyeglasses can correct early vision problems and improve a child's development.


"Nurses play a key role in monitoring the health of babies born to mothers who had Zika during pregnancy, and they should incorporate questions about Zika exposure during pregnancy into screening practices," said Cynthia Moore, chief medical officer in the Division of Congenital and Developmental Disorders at the CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. "For children who appear healthy but were born to mothers with Zika, nurses should take careful growth measurements, including head circumference, and ask parents about their child's development at routine well-child visits. Some health problems can easily go undetected, so it's important that even if they appear healthy, these babies receive all the recommended care and evaluation."


Additionally, nurses can help prevent future Zika virus infections by educating parents on how to prevent exposure, said Moore. For example, pregnant women should not travel to areas with a risk of Zika transmission, and couples planning to conceive should follow the CDC's recommendations at, with a recent update for men at Potera




Rice ME, et al MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2018 67 31 858-67