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Women's Health Care of New England

CÚCUTA, Colombia — Margarita Rosa Barrios was six weeks pregnant when she began to feel the symptoms that every expecting mother here has come to dread: swollen eyes, aching joints, three days of fever. Just as she feared, she had the Zika virus.

Ms. Barrios, 24, knows that thousands of babies have been reported born with abnormally small heads during the Zika epidemic in neighboring Brazil and that researchers there say the virus is to blame. Read More:http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/16/world/americas/zika-virus-in-colombia-presents-complicated-choice-about-abortion.html?

In 2001, when Dr. Alison Stuebe was pregnant with her first child, breast-feeding was a personal challenge that soon morphed into a professional research interest. Her son Noah was 3 months old when she began her residency in maternal-fetal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Determined to nurse him for a year, she arrived at the hospital carrying a breast pump and, through sheer determination, more than met her goal. Noah was 2½ before he was weaned. Read More:http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/02/15/support-for-breast-feeding-in-a-multitude-of-ways

Is there a vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika?

No. There is no vaccine to prevent infection or medicine to treat Zika.

I am pregnant. Should I travel to a country where cases of Zika have been reported?

Until more is known, CDC recommends special precautions for pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant:

  • Pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Pregnant women who do travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctor or other healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip.
  • Women trying to become pregnant or who are thinking about becoming pregnant should consult with their healthcare provider before traveling to these areas and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip.

Because specific areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing are difficult to determine and likely to change over time, CDC will update this travel notice as information becomes available. Check CDC’s Zika Travel Information website frequently for the most up-to-date recommendations.

I am pregnant. How will Zika virus affect me or my unborn baby?

CDC has issued a travel notice (Level 2-Practice Enhanced Precautions) for people traveling to regions and certain countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.

This notice follows reports in Brazil of microcephaly and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant. However, additional studies are needed to further characterize this relationship. More studies are planned to learn more about the risks of Zika virus infection during pregnancy.

Until more is known, CDC recommends special precautions for pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant:

  • Pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Pregnant women who do travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctor or other healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip.
  • Women trying to become pregnant should consult with their healthcare provider before traveling to these areas and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip.

Because specific areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing are difficult to determine and likely to change over time, CDC will update this travel notice as information becomes available. Check CDC's Zika Travel Information website frequently for the most up-to-date recommendations.

Is it safe to use an insect repellent if I am pregnant or nursing?

Yes. Using an insect repellent is safe and effective. Pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding can and should choose an EPA-registeredhttp://www.cdc.gov/TemplatePackage/3.0/images/icon_out.png); padding-right: 13px; background-position: 100% 50%; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;"> insect repellents and use it according to the product label.

If a woman who is not pregnant is bitten by a mosquito and infected with Zika virus, will her future pregnancies be at risk?

We do not know the risk to the infant if a woman is infected with Zika virus while she is pregnant.  Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for only a few days to a week.  The virus will not cause infections in an infant that is conceived after the virus is cleared from the blood. There is currently no evidence that Zika virus infection poses a risk of birth defects in future pregnancies.  A women contemplating pregnancy, who has recently recovered from Zika virus infection, should consult her healthcare provider after recovering.

Should a pregnant woman who traveled to an area with Zika virus be tested for the virus?

See your healthcare provider if you are pregnant and develop a fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes within 2 weeks after traveling to a country where Zika virus cases have been reported. Be sure to tell your health care provider where you traveled.

Can a previous Zika virus infection cause someone who later becomes pregnant to have an infant with microcephaly?

We do not know the risk to the baby if a woman is infected with Zika virus while she is pregnant. However, Zika virus infection does not pose a risk of birth defects for future pregnancies. Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for about a week. The virus will not cause infections in a baby that is conceived after the virus is cleared from the blood.

Is it safe to get pregnant after traveling to a country with Zika virus?

If infected, Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for about a week. The virus will not cause infections in a baby that is conceived after the virus is cleared from the blood.

Can a pregnant woman be tested for Zika weeks or months after being in a country with Zika?

At this time, and for several reasons, we do not recommend routine Zika virus testing in pregnant women who have traveled to a country with known transmission. First, there can be false-positive results due to antibodies that are made against other related viruses. Second, we do not know the risk to the fetus if the mother tests positive for Zika virus antibodies. We also do not know if the risk is different in mothers who do or do not have symptoms due to Zika virus infection.

If a woman who has traveled to an area with Zika virus transmission, should she wait to get pregnant?

We do not know the risk to an infant if a woman is infected with Zika virus while she is pregnant.  Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for only a few days to a week.  The virus will not cause infections in an infant that is conceived after the virus is cleared from the blood. There is currently no evidence that Zika virus infection poses a risk of birth defects in future pregnancies.  A women contemplating pregnancy, who has recently travelled to an area with local Zika transmission, should consult her healthcare provider after returning.


If you’re having sex, you’re at risk for sexually transmitted infections. But what are the chances you’ll actually get one?

A quick sex quiz from researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine will give you a better idea. It asks your age along with five questions about your love life, and clinical trials show it works pretty well — particularly for women, not quite as well for men. Answers are weighted, but it’s the kind of test you don’t want to ace: the higher your score, the higher your risk for an infection. Whether you use condoms and how many sex partners you have are critical factors in determining risk. Read More:http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/01/29/stds-risks-sexually-transmitted-infections-diseases/

The images pouring out of Brazil are haunting: struggling newborns with misshapen heads, cradled by mothers who desperately want to know whether their babies will ever walk or talk.

There are thousands of these children in Brazil, and scientists fear thousands more might come as the Zika virus leaps across Latin America and the Caribbean. But the striking deformity at the center of the epidemic, microcephaly, is not new: It has pained families across the globe and mystified experts for decades.

Read More:http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/01/health/microcephaly-spotlighted-by-zika-virus-has-long-afflicted-and-mystified.html?

Zika virus has already been linked to brain damage in babies and paralysis in adults. Now scientists are facing another ominous possibility: that on rare occasions, the virus might be transmitted through sex.

The evidence is very slim; only a couple of cases have been described in medical literature. But a few experts feel the prospect is disturbing enough that federal health officials should inform all travelers, not just pregnant women, of the potential danger. Read More:http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/26/health/two-cases-suggest-zika-virus-could

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As a cancer patient whose life has been miraculously extended by a clinical trial, I was shocked by Charles Piller’s Dec. 13 essay “Law Ignored, Patients at Risk” in STAT News on lapses in reporting the results of such trials. My first response was to ask: Is he a reputable journalist? Is the online venue in which the article appears legit? When the answer to each of these questions came back a resounding yes, I began worrying that cancer doctors and patients have been imperiled by irresponsible researchers.

 

Read the full article on NY Times

By  JANUARY 15, 2016 11:23 AM

A new study suggests that the more potatoes in a woman’s typical diet, the more likely she is to develop gestational diabetes, a serious complication of pregnancy.

In a 10-year study, researchers found 854 cases of gestational diabetes in 21,693 pregnancies among women participating in a larger health study. The women completed food questionnaires every four years, which gave the researchers a picture of their long-term habitual diet...

Read the full article on NY TIMES

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