Zika Birth Defects Surveillance

Mother changing diaper to toddler

The Zika Birth Defects Surveillance system identifies and collects data on birth defects that might be related to Zika virus infection during pregnancy.

Goals of the Zika Birth Defects Surveillance System

The Zika Birth Defects Surveillance system complements the US Zika Pregnancy and Infant Registry by monitoring infants with birth defects that might be associated with Zika virus infection, regardless of their laboratory tests. This system collects information on infants that the Registry might miss if the mother’s Zika virus infection during pregnancy was not detected.

Ultimately, this information can help identify the types and risk of birth defects that occur in infants who were exposed to Zika virus. The information will serve as a foundation to better understand the long-term effects of Zika virus on a community over time. An evidence-based understanding of these effects will help healthcare professionals recognize potential symptoms of Zika virus infection, and connect families to appropriate medical and social services they need as early as possible.

For more information, visit Resources for Families of Newborns Affected by Zika Virus.

Rapidly Tracking Birth Defects

CDC supports 50 state, territorial, and local health departments for Zika Birth Defect Surveillance. This includes some departments that are establishing new systems as well as those that are enhancing  previously established birth defect surveillance systems. All of these systems find and collect secure medical information about babies born with microcephaly and other birth defects linked to Zika virus infection during pregnancy. This allows the systems to capture secure medical information about a large population of babies at birth up to one year of life.

All of these systems use a standard case definition to identify and collect information on all infants who have these birth defects. A standard case definition helps programs collect data in a consistent, systematic way to help ensure that data collected from various geographic areas can be compared in a meaningful way.

Monitoring Health Outcomes

The Zika Birth Defects Surveillance system monitors birth defects potentially related to Zika virus infection, including

  • Brain abnormalities
  • Microcephaly
  • Eye defects
  • Hearing loss
  • Other problems associated with damage to the brain that affects the
    • Nerves
    • Muscles
    • Bones (such as clubfoot or inflexible joints)