The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has published GUIDELINES AND A TRAVEL ADVISORY FOR PREGNANT WOMEN as well as TRAVEL HEALTH NOTICES concerning the Zika virus.


1. All pregnant women who traveled to an affected country should see their doctor.

2. All pregnant women who traveled to an affected country with symptoms should get a blood test

3. All pregnant women who traveled to an affected country without symptoms should get a sonogram to check for microcephaly

Brazil has declared an emergency in the northeast section of the country and is telling women to not become pregnant because of a congenital condition of the head and brain called 'microcephaly' that many babies have been affected with before birth.

The condition is known as microcephaly and is associated with a small head and brain and usually with severe mental impairment and seizures as well as reduced life expectancy. Its usual incidence is about 1 in 7,000 births and has risen to more than 20-fold in certain areas of Brazil. This compares to another condition called 'anencephaly' where there is little to no brain.

Microcephaly can happen before birth (congenital) or after birth (acquired). Congenital microcephaly can have many different causes including as part of certain syndromes or genetic issues. Acquired microcephaly could be due to infections, strokes, or certain drugs. 

The fetal head circumference is measured during pregnancy and then compared to certain normal curves. Microcephaly is diagnosed when the head circumference falls below 2 standard deviations of the norm. Calculate the fetal head circumference here. 

The World Health Organization reports the most affected areas of Brazil are the states of Pernambuco and Paraíba with other cases in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. No cause for the increase in microcephaly in Brazil has yet been identified through the condition began to spike with the appearance of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in Brazil, which is characterized by a mild fever, rash, and headaches.

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