Zika scare may delay desired pregnancies

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Zika has a lot of Americans canceling any plans they had to visit Latin American countries where the virus carrying mosquitoes are prevalent. The danger is for pregnant women, because the virus could lead to birth defects in the child. In another month or so the Zika carrying mosquitoes are likely to begin breeding in Texas, and that adds a new complication for women trying to get pregnant. They may wait.

The Texas Fertility Center is used to helping women who may have trouble conceiving. Now they’re being bombarded with inquiries about Zika. Dr. Kaylen Silverberg, medical director at the center, says, “It’s generated a lot of phone calls, that’s for sure. We have a lot of patients concerned about getting pregnant anyway who are thinking I know my clock is ticking but we have this big issue here and maybe we should hold off awhile.”

Catia Holm and her husband have been trying for a child at the center, then they began hearing about the virus. They considered delaying their treatments, but decided to go in a different direction. Catia says, “Once we get pregnant, God willing, we’ll analyze the situation here, the heat and mosquitoes, and maybe move. I know it’s a big step and it sounds extreme but every doctor we’ve talked to so far, we ask them do you think we’re crazy and they say no, if you can do it, do it.”

They would just move for the duration of the pregnancy, then return to Texas. Not everyone has that option and the problem for pregnancies is the stubborn nature of Zika. Dr. Silverberg explains, “It’s a lot easier if we have a narrow window in which it’s a problem. But the problem with this virus is it can affect a pregnancy anywhere along the pregnancy. Now the earlier it affects the pregnancy the more severe the problem is likely to be. And if a woman is exposed at the end of a pregnancy nothing may happen at all.”

Taking a deeper look at the Zika situation, according to health authorities there have been 312 cases so far in the United States. 27 of them involved pregnant women. They were primarily from travel abroad, although six cases were sexually transmitted. There have been 27 cases in Texas, two in Travis County. None of the cases in the United States involved a mosquito bite in this country, but the breeding season here is expected to begin around mid-May.

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