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Unforeseen Drawbacks from Zika Virus Recommendations

Central & South American women are grappling with the Zika virus in various ways. But how are they managing the stress that comes along with pregnancy and an outbreak?

by / Views 176 / February 16, 2016

Latin American health authorities have warned women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant to stay indoors, to cover their bodies from head to toe with tight-fitting clothing, and brandish themselves with mosquito spray. Did we mention it’s the middle of summer in one of the hottest locations on the planet?

Discomforts aside, the Zika virus has frightening consequences for mothers-to-be and for their children. Every day, many Central and South American women are grappling with the new reality of staying inside and cautiously covering up. And thoughts of planning for a fun baby shower, or taking a quick baby moon, have been replaced by fear of the unknown for their unborn.

Pregnant women are begging for solutions in order to prevent infection, and this is causing worry and stress to escalate.

Depression and anxiety during pregnancy is common, but fear of the unknown has the potential to increase rates significantly. It’s normal to have anxiety and experience what psychotherapists call “intrusive” thoughts during an emotional journey like pregnancy, but significant distress could lead to higher blood pressure levels and a greater risk for heart disease for both mom and baby.

Women in these countries have reason to worry. Scientists don’t yet know why or how Zika crosses the placenta and enters the fetal brain to do damage, according to a January 15th article published in the New York Times.  It is not related to rubella or cytomegalovirus, but they do know it is related to yellow fever, dengue and West Nile virus, which are not widely known to harm embryos.

Currently, there is no cure. That’s why the CDC has issued a warning against travel in more than 14 countries where transmissions are at the highest levels. So if you’re pregnant or are trying to get pregnant, and you have a trip planned to an affected country, consider postponing it. Play it safe by covering up and don’t forget to tell your doctor how you are feeling, both physically and emotionally during your next visit.

Stay sane by staying informed. Get the latest news and updates from the CDC and learn more about how to manage your stress levels during pregnancy.