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As the weather warms up across the country, pregnant women are turning their minds to several challenges. The heat can get tricky when you’re carrying a human inside you (to say the least), but the high temperatures outside might actually be the least of your problems. Because with the heat come the mosquitoes… and with the mosquitoes comes the threat of the Zika virus. After a brief winter respite, concern over the virus is returning with a vengeance. Scientists continue to work to get ahead of the virus, and some are hoping to test vaccines on pregnant women for some surprising reasons.

The Zika virus is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is most often found in hot weather, frequently close to standing water. It can also be sexually transmitted through male semen. The symptoms of the Zika virus (headache, flu-like nausea, conjunctivitis, aches and pains, exhaustion) could very well go unnoticed if contracted by a healthy adult. Unfortunately, the virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus, and can potentially cause a whole host of birth defects including, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Microcephaly, a condition where the brain does not develop properly, resulting in a decreased head size and a whole host of neurological issues.
  • Congenital Zika Syndrome, or severe microcephaly, where the skull is partially collapsed, damage to the eye, brain damage, joints with limited range of motion, clubfoot, too much muscle tone.

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Image:┬áPor Beth.herlin – File:MICROCEPHALY.png, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46971927

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