Pregnant Without A Cause

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Not all babies born with congenital Zika infection will have all of these problems. Some infants with congenital Zika virus infection who do not have microcephaly at birth may later experience slowed head growth and develop postnatal microcephaly. Recognizing that Zika is a cause of certain birth defects does not mean that every pregnant woman infected with Zika will have a baby with a birth defect.

It means that infection with Zika during pregnancy increases the chances for these problems. Scientists continue to study how Zika virus affects mothers and their children to better understand the full range of potential health problems that Zika virus infection during pregnancy may cause. Based on the available evidence, we think that Zika virus infection in a woman who is not pregnant would not pose a risk for birth defects in future pregnancies after the virus has cleared from her blood.

From what we know about similar infections, once a person has been infected with Zika virus, he or she is likely to be protected from a future Zika infection. Skip directly to site content Skip directly to page options Skip directly to A-Z link.

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  • Get Email Updates. Some birth defects can be seen right after the baby is born, such as a clubfoot or extra fingers or toes. Special tests may be needed to find others, such as heart defects or hearing loss.

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    Some birth defects are not noticed until later in life. Some birth defects are caused by genes that can be passed down from parents to children.

    Here’s the deal

    Others result from a problem with chromosomes. A small number of birth defects are caused by exposure during pregnancy to certain medications, infections, and chemicals. For many birth defects, the cause is not known. Most birth defects cannot be prevented because their cause is not known.

    Women's Health Care Physicians

    For a few birth defects, you may be able to decrease your risk by taking certain steps:. Scheduling a health care visit before getting pregnant is a good idea. You can get advice about diet and exercise from your obstetrician—gynecologist ob-gyn or other health care professional. You can talk about whether you have any factors that increase the risk of having a child with a birth defect. If you have a medical condition, you can talk about any special care that you may need before or during pregnancy. If you have any risk factors, your ob-gyn or other health care professional may recommend special tests or other steps that may help reduce your risk.

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    For example, if you have a personal or family history of birth defects, genetic counseling and testing may be recommended. Prenatal vitamin supplements contain the recommended amounts of the vitamins and minerals you will need during your pregnancy, such as vitamins A, C, and D; folic acid ; and minerals such as iron. Taking micrograms of folic acid daily for at least 1 month before pregnancy and during pregnancy helps prevent major birth defects called neural tube defects. These are defects of the brain and spine of the fetus.

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    A few medications have been linked to birth defects. You should tell anyone who prescribes drugs for you that you are pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant. This includes doctors you may see for dental care, mental health, or other nonpregnancy problems. Also, check with your ob-gyn or other health care professional before taking any over-the-counter drug, such as pain relievers, laxatives, cold or allergy remedies, vitamins, herbal products, and skin treatments.

    Women who are obese defined as having a body mass index [BMI] of 30 or greater when they get pregnant have an increased risk of having babies with certain birth defects than women who are a normal weight. Among the most common obesity-related birth defects are neural tube defects, heart defects, and cleft palate. If you are planning a pregnancy, the best way to prevent problems caused by obesity is to be at a normal weight before you get pregnant.

    Why pregnancy might not occur

    Some medical conditions—such as diabetes , high blood pressure, and seizure disorders—may increase the risk of having a baby with certain birth defects. If you have a medical condition, see your ob-gyn or other health care professional to discuss any changes you need to make in your diet, medication, or other areas to bring the condition under control before you try to get pregnant. Alcohol can interfere with the normal growth of the fetus and cause birth defects. When a woman drinks during pregnancy, her fetus can develop physical, intellectual, behavioral, and learning disabilities that can last a lifetime.

    It is best not to drink at all during pregnancy. If it is hard for you to stop drinking, talk with your ob-gyn or other health care professional or contact Alcoholics Anonymous on its website: www. Using substances—including heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines, and prescription drugs taken for a nonmedical reason—is a widespread problem in the United States. Using illegal drugs early in pregnancy can cause birth defects and miscarriage. During the later weeks of pregnancy, illegal drugs can interfere with the growth of the fetus and cause preterm birth and fetal death.