Surveillance for Emerging Threats to Mothers and Babies

CDC’s Surveillance for Emerging Threats to Mothers and Babies

  • Detects the effects of new health threats, like COVID-19, on pregnant women and their babies by collecting data from pregnancy through childhood
  • Uses evidence-based, actionable information to help save and improve the lives of mothers and babies

Through this effort, state, local, and territorial health departments work with CDC to identify the impact of emerging health threats to pregnant women and their infants. This approach serves as a preparedness network that can be expanded should new threats for mothers and babies emerge.

Goals and Impact: Combatting Emerging Health Threats to Help Mothers and Babies Thrive

Surveillance for Emerging Threats to Mothers and Babies collects information on pregnant women and their children through the first 3 years of life. This system aims to figure out how health threats, such as COVID-19, hepatitis C, syphilis, and Zika, affect these populations. It may also track birth defects, developmental problems, and other disabilities as these children age. CDC scientists use these data to

  • Monitor and improve the health of pregnant women and infants;
  • Link families to medical and social services to get recommended care;
  • Strengthen laboratory and clinical testing to find emerging health threats quickly; and
  • Ensure public health is ready and prepared to meet the needs of pregnant women and infants during emergencies.

This surveillance builds upon the US Zika Pregnancy and Infant Registry. The Registry collected health information on pregnant women and infants with laboratory evidence of Zika infection during pregnancy. A key part of this unique surveillance is the ability to find exposures during pregnancy and link them with health outcomes of pregnant women and infants. This innovative and nimble approach enables CDC and state, local, and territorial health departments to monitor exposures of concern during pregnancy and collect follow-up data on affected infants over time.

See the latest data on the impact of COVID-19 during pregnancy from a subset of participating jurisdictions.

Coordinating State, Local, Territorial, and National Collaborations

CDC currently supports 29* state, local, and territorial health departments to prepare for and respond to emerging threats to pregnant women and infants.

States and Territories Funded for the Surveillance of Emerging Threats to Mothers and Babies in August 2020 and Current Contractual Field Staff Placement Sites
Figure 1. States and Territories Funded for the Surveillance of Emerging Threats to Mothers and Babies in August 2019 and Current Field Staff Placement Sites

Text version for Figure 1

Supporting Surveillance Capacity for U.S. States, Local Areas, and Territories

  • The map above shows CDC funded jurisdictions conducting surveillance of one or more of the following infectious disease threats:
    • COVID-19
    • hepatitis C
    • syphilis
    • Zika
  • CDC placed skilled contractual field staff at health departments with high burden to support local and state surveillance efforts. Field staff also do educational outreach for healthcare providers and community members and help connect families to resources.

Related Publications

Birth and Infant Outcomes Following Laboratory-Confirmed SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Pregnancy — SET-NET, 16 Jurisdictions, March 29–October 14, 2020
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report; November 6, 2020; 69(44);1635–1640
Woodworth KR, Olsen EO, Neelam V, et al.

A Preparedness Model for Mother-Baby Linked Longitudinal Surveillance for Emerging Threatsexternal icon.
Journal of Women’s Health; January 4, 2021; 1–9
Woodworth KR, Reynolds MR, Burkel V, et al.