Zika Virus infection: A vector-borne threat to pregnant women and infants

Regina Grazel, Pamela Harris-Haman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Zika virus (ZIKV) is an emergent flavivirus, transmitted predominately by Aedes genus mosquitos that recently reached the Americas and was soon implicated in an increase in microcephaly and other serious birth defects. Purpose: This report provides updated information and recommendations on testing, screening, and care for pregnant women and infants affected by ZIKV. Methods: Current published recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and the American Academy of Pediatrics were reviewed and included in this report. Results: Although largely a self-limiting disease usually without symptoms, pregnant women and their fetuses are at greatest risk. Maternal transmission of ZIKV to the fetus can lead to congenital Zika infection with potentially devastating sequelae to the infant. The available evidence suggests that infection during the first trimester of pregnancy, in which the fetus' central nervous system is being formed, is associated with higher risk of brain abnormalities and perinatal loss. Implications for Practice: Uncertainties remain about the course of the disease, and the full spectrum of effects of the virus on the developing infant is not yet understood. Infants with congenital Zika syndrome need coordinated follow-up and long-term specialty care, as well as support for the family. Implications for Research: There is no known cure for ZIKV infection and no vaccine is currently available. The full spectrum of developmental disabilities and other adverse early childhood outcomes associated with congenital ZIKV infection needs to be studied.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)350-359
Number of pages10
JournalAdvances in Neonatal Care
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • ZIKV
  • Zika virus
  • congenital Zika infection
  • infants
  • pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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