About CDC's Work on Zika and Pregnancy

Close up of reclining pregnant woman holding her stomach

The National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) has been involved in activities to prevent, track, and research Zika since CDC started its Zika Virus Emergency Response in 2016. NCBDDD collects information about Zika virus infection during pregnancy to understand its effects on pregnancies and babies, to educate healthcare providers, and to connect affected families to services.

Zika, Pregnancy, and Birth Defects Surveillance

Tracking pregnant women with Zika virus infection and their infants can answer questions about the effects of the virus. The U.S. Zika Pregnancy and Infant Registry (USZPIR) works with state, local, freely associated state and territorial health departments to track pregnant women with possible Zika virus infection during pregnancy. The outcome of their pregnancies and the development of their infants is monitored at least until the infant’s third birthday. NCBDDD’s Zika Birth Defects Surveillance tracks any infant with a birth defect potentially related to Zika virus infection during pregnancy, even if the mother did not have Zika virus infection. This system can find infants missed by the USZPIR when a mother’s infection goes undetected.

Zika Prevention, Education, and Access to Care Initiatives

NCBDDD also supports activities to prevent Zika, educate communities about Zika, and increase access to care for families affected by Zika. CDC started the Local Health Department Initiative to help select jurisdictions expand capacity to respond to Zika virus and other emerging threats. Field assignees from the community received training from CDC and work in the local health departments. This activity helps to:

  • Increase each health department’s ability to track cases and report them to the USZPIR,
  • Improve provider outreach and education,
  • Increase community education about Zika, and
  • Encourage partner organizations and other maternal and child health organizations to work together.

International Activities

CDC is also working with international partners to understand the effects of Zika virus during pregnancy. CDC works with Colombia’s Instituto Nacional de Salud (INS) and Ministry of Health to track the health of pregnant women and their infants in Colombia through two projects.

Proyecto Vigilancia de Embarazadas con Zika (VEZ) is enhanced surveillance of pregnant women with symptomatic Zika virus disease and their infants. Zika en Embarazadas y Niños en Colombia (ZEN) is a study on pregnant women, their male partners, and children to assess the risk of Zika in pregnancy. CDC also assists INS with reviewing health records of babies with microcephaly and other central nervous system problems to help decide if cases are related to Zika during pregnancy.

CDC has also worked with Brazil’s Ministry of Health to measure the health of babies born to mothers with Zika virus infection during pregnancy through the Zika Outcomes and Development in Infants and Children (ZODIAC) study.

These activities are made possible through support by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) under the terms of an Interagency Agreement with CDC. Learn more about what CDC is doing to prevent Zika virus infection across the globe.

For more information about Zika and pregnancy visit https://www.cdc.gov/pregnancy/zika/index.html or call us at 1-800-CDC-INFO.