As Zika continues to spread across much of South America, U.S. officials are warning pregnant women to think twice about going to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Due to the link between Zika infection and the birth defect of the brain known as microcephaly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that pregnant women “consider not going to the Olympics.” Pregnant women should also abstain from sex during pregnancy or use condoms with any male partners who goes to the Olympics or any other area where the mosquito-borne virus is present.
The warning comes as a study of nine pregnant women in the United States who traveled to Zika-infected areas has raised concern that the ties to fetal infections and birth defects could be even stronger than initially expected. Two of the nine women had miscarriages and one child was born with severe microcephaly. Two women also chose to have abortions, and two had children who appear to be healthy.
“We did not expect to see these brain abnormalities in this small case series of U.S. pregnant travelers,” said Dr. Denise Jamieson, a birth defects expert serving on CDC’s Zika Virus Response Team.