Zika’s effect on US pregnancies stirs debate

CARY, N.C. (WNCN) – As the Zika virus spreads, there’s a growing debate about how to advise women whether to get pregnant at all.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed this week there’s a link between the virus and birth defects, including microcephaly. It’s a condition in which the brain does not develop normally and causes the head to be smaller than normal.

Some health officials in Central and South America are advising women to avoid pregnancy.

The New York Times reports some researchers want the CDC to take a closer look at whether to advise women in the U.S. to consider delaying pregnancy, especially if the virus spreads to the continental U.S.

But at this point, health officials are only advising women who are already pregnant to avoid travel to places where the outbreak has taken place.

“Even if it’s an unintended pregnancy, you have to think ahead as you travel to these areas, you probably ought to be on contraception,” said Dr. Anthony J. Koehler, an OB/GYN at WakeMed.

Dr. Koehler also noted that people who travel overseas and do become infected need to wait before attempting to get pregnant.

“You actually have to protect yourself, if you’re a female, for two months before getting pregnant. Six months, if you’re male. It’s a big commitment,” he said.

As of Wednesday, there have been nine cases of the Zika virus reported in North Carolina, according to the state’s Department of Health and Human Services.

All of those cases have been associated with people who traveled outside the U.S. to places where the virus is more common.

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