West Nile, A Pregnancy Danger?

If a woman becomes ill with West Nile fever while she is pregnant, can her baby be damaged by the West Nile virus (WNV)? In 2002, there were 4 confirmed cases of WNV infection involving pregnant women and one baby was born with not only detectable WNV infection but also with brain damage possibly caused by the virus.

The CDC is now gathering outcome data for pregnancies of WNV-infected mothers. The CDC Guidelines include -- how to screen for WNV during pregnancy, how to diagnose WNV infection during pregnancy, evaluation of the fetus with ultrasound and possibly, tissue biopsy or amniotic fluid, and evaluation of babies after birth. The report concludes with recommendations as to how women can avoid being infected with the WNV in the first place. These same recommendations are applicable to everyone, pregnant or not.

Barbara K. Hecht, Ph.D.
Frederick Hecht, M.D.
Medical Editors, MedicineNet.com

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