Pregnancy and Zika

Learn how Zika can affect your pregnancy or plans for a pregnancy.

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The risks of Zika virus infection during your pregnancy

Zika virus infection in a pregnant woman can pose significant risks to the fetus, even if the woman does not develop symptoms of infection.

In babies whose mothers were infected during pregnancy, the Zika virus can cause congenital Zika syndrome, which includes:

  • severe birth defects, such as:
    • hearing loss
    • club foot and contracted limbs
    • incomplete brain development, including abnormally small heads (microcephaly)
    • abnormal development of the eyes, including visual problems
    • other neurologic abnormalities including:
      • irritability
      • seizures
      • spasticity

How you can protect yourself from Zika

Pregnant women and women planning a pregnancy should take special precautions to avoid infection with the Zika virus.

If you are pregnant, you should avoid:

If you can't avoid travel to Zika-affected countries or areas:

  • protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times by following strict mosquito bite prevention measures
  • get advice from a health care provider at least 6 weeks before you travel and follow up upon your return

If your sexual partner has travelled to a Zika-affected country or area, to protect yourself and your fetus from infection, you should:

  • always use condoms correctly for the duration of your pregnancy, or
  • avoid having sex for the duration of your pregnancy

For men who have travelled to a Zika-affected country or area and have a pregnant partner, you should:

  • always use condoms correctly for the duration of the pregnancy, or
  • avoid having sex for the duration of the pregnancy

Planning a pregnancy

If you have travelled to a Zika-affected country or area and want to become pregnant after returning home:

Women

Women should wait at least 2 months after travel before trying for a pregnancy. This will ensure that any possible Zika virus infection is gone from your body.

Men

Men should wait 6 months before trying for a pregnancy. Because the Zika virus has been found in the semen of some infected men for up to 6 months, during that time, men should:

  • always use condoms correctly, or
  • avoid having sex

What to do if you think you might have Zika

If you think you have been exposed to or infected with the Zika virus, contact your health care provider. Your health care provider should arrange an appointment for you with an infectious diseases specialist.

Testing is recommended if you have symptoms of Zika or previously had symptoms of Zika that are now gone, and:

  • are pregnant and have travelled to a Zika-affected country or area
  • became pregnant within 2 months after travelling to a Zika-affected country or area
  • are pregnant and have had unprotected sexual contact with:
    • someone diagnosed with Zika virus infection
    • someone who travelled to a Zika-affected country or area

Testing is a consideration for pregnant women who do not have a history of Zika symptoms but have:

  • travelled or became pregnant within 2 months after travelling to a Zika-affected country or area
  • had unprotected sexual contact with:
    • someone diagnosed with Zika virus infection
    • someone who travelled to a Zika-affected country or area

Testing for Zika is not recommended, even if you are pregnant, if:

  • you do not have a travel history to a Zika-affected country or area
  • you do not have a sexual partner with a travel history to a Zika-affected country or area

Other infectious diseases with similar signs and symptoms are possible, but Zika is not likely if:

  • you do not have a travel history to a Zika-affected country or area
  • you do not have a sexual partner with a travel history to a Zika-affected country or area

There is currently no evidence that the Zika virus:

  • will cause infections in a baby conceived after the virus is cleared from the blood of an infected mother and the semen of her sexual partner, or
  • poses a risk of birth defects for future pregnancies
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