Zika Virus: Information for Pregnant Women
Zika virus can be passed from a mother to her baby during pregnancy. Get the facts about Zika and pregnancy, find out how to prevent infection, how infection could harm your baby, and what you should do if you are pregnant and think you may have been exposed to the virus. Learn More >>
Question and Answers: Zika virus infection (Zika) and pregnancy
What places have outbreaks of Zika?
Local transmission of Zika has been reported in many countries and territories. Specific areas where Zika is spreading are often difficult to determine and will likely change over time. Check CDC’s Zika Travel Information webpage often for the most up-to-date travel recommendations.
Should pregnant women travel to places with Zika outbreaks?
Zika virus can be spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus. There have been reports of a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly in babies of mothers who had Zika virus while pregnant. Knowledge of the link between Zika and birth defects is evolving, but until more is known, CDC recommends special precautions for pregnant women. Pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus is spreading. If you must travel to one of these areas, talk to your healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip.
Should women trying to get pregnant travel to places with Zika outbreaks?
Until more is known, CDC recommends that women trying to get pregnant and their male partners talk to their healthcare provider before traveling toareas with Zika. Because sexual transmission is possible, both men and women should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip.
Areas where Zika is spreading will likely change over time. Check CDC’s travel website often for a current list of areas with Zika. Specific areas where Zika virus is spreading are often difficult to determine and are likely to change. As more information becomes available, travel notices will be updated. Please check back frequently for the most up-to-date recommendations.
Can mothers pass Zika on to their fetuses during pregnancy?
Zika virus can be passed from a mother to her fetus during pregnancy. We are studying how Zika affects pregnancies.
What should a pregnant woman do if she has previously traveled to a place with a Zika outbreak?
Pregnant women who have recently traveled to an area with Zika should talk to a healthcare provider about their travel even if they don’t feel sick. CDC has guidance to help doctors decide what tests are needed for pregnant women who may have been exposed to Zika. CDC recommends that all pregnant women who have traveled to an area with Zika talk to their doctors. It is especially important that pregnant women see a doctor if they develop a fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes during their trip or within 2 weeks after traveling to a country where Zika has been reported. They should tell the doctor where they traveled.
What should a pregnant woman do if she gets sick during or after travel to a place with a Zika outbreak?
Pregnant women who are worried that they had Zika should talk to their healthcare provider and tell their provider about their recent travel. It is especially important for a pregnant woman to see a doctor if she develops a fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes during her trip or within 2 weeks after traveling to an area with Zika. CDC has guidance to help doctors decide what tests are needed for pregnant women who may have been exposed to Zika.
Information for healthcare providers can be found on the Zika virus Information for Health Care Providers webpage.
Does Zika in pregnant women cause birth defects?
Brazil has been having a significant outbreak of Zika virus since May 2015. Officials in Brazil have also noted an increase in the number of babies with congenital microcephaly (a birth defect in which the size of a baby’s head is smaller than expected for age and sex) during that time. Congenital microcephaly is often a sign of the brain not developing normally during pregnancy. Health authorities in Brazil, with assistance from the Pan American Health Organization, CDC, and other agencies, have been investigating the possible association between Zika virus infection and microcephaly.
Additional studies are needed to determine the degree to which Zika might be linked with microcephaly. More lab testing and other studies are planned to learn more about the risks of Zika virus infection during pregnancy.
Because of the possible association between Zika infection and microcephaly, pregnant women should take steps to prevent mosquito bites.
Can a previous Zika infection cause a woman who later gets pregnant to have a baby with microcephaly?
Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that Zika virus, after it is cleared from the blood, poses a risk of birth defects for future pregnancies. Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for about a week.
Is it safe to get pregnant after traveling to a place with a Zika outbreak?
Women thinking about getting pregnant who have recently traveled to an area with Zika should talk to their healthcare provider. Once a person becomes sick, Zika virus usually remains in the blood for about a week. Zika virus has been found in semen longer.
Is there a vaccine or medicine for Zika?
No. There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.
How can people protect themselves against Zika?
The best way to prevent Zika is to prevent mosquito bites. Here’s how
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
- Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents (bug spray). Always follow the instructions on the label and reapply every few hours.
- Eliminate mosquito breeding sites, like containers with standing water.
Visit CDC’s website for more information about preventing mosquito bites.
Can pregnant and breastfeeding women use insect repellent?
Yes. Use EPA-registered insect repellents. When used as directed, these insect repellents are proven safe and effective even for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Some natural products are EPA-registered. The effectiveness of non-EPA registered insect repellents is NOT known.Insect repellents registered by the EPA can be expected to repel the mosquitoes that spread Zika, provided the EPA-approved labeling says the product is for use to protect against mosquitoes in general or against Aedes mosquitoes in particular. An example of a natural product with an EPA registration is oil of lemon eucalyptus.
Should a pregnant woman who lives in or has traveled to a place with a Zika outbreak be tested for the virus?
CDC has guidance to help healthcare providers decide what tests are needed for pregnant women who may have been exposed to Zika. CDC recommends that all pregnant women who have traveled to a place with a Zika outbreak get tested. It is especially important for pregnant women to see a doctor if they develop a fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes during their trip or within 2 weeks after traveling to an area with Zika. Be sure to tell your doctor where you traveled.