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 real-time, 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.

Coordinating State, Local, Territorial, and National Collaborations

CDC currently supports 28* 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, Local Areas, and Territories Funded from Surveillance of Emerging Threats to Mothers and Babies

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.

Building upon Zika Pregnancy and Infant Surveillance

In August 2016 through July 2018, 61 states, territories, and local areas received one-time Zika supplemental funding to support the U.S. Zika Pregnancy and Infant Registry. Data collected through the Registry help CDC scientists to learn more about the long-term health outcomes of infants affected by Zika during pregnancy.

States and Territories Funded for the U.S. Zika Pregnancy and Infant Registry in August 2016 and Contractual Field Staff Placement Sites (August 2016-July 2018)
Figure 2. States and Territories Funded for the U.S. Zika Pregnancy and Infant Registry in August 2016 and Contractual Field Staff Placement Sites (August 2016-July 2018)

Text version for Figure 2

*Jurisdictions and partners are supported through either a cooperative agreement or contractual mechanism. Jurisdictional cooperative agreements are funded through the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Prevention and Control of Emerging Infectious Diseases (ELC).