Women with Zika should wait at least eight weeks after the start of their symptoms before trying to conceive, according to new federal recommendations. Men with Zika should wait six months after onset of symptoms before having unprotected sex.
“Mounting evidence supports a link between Zika and microcephaly, a birth defect that is a sign of incomplete brain development, and possibly other problems such as miscarriage and stillbirth,” officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Friday. For men and women with possible exposure to Zika, federal authorities are recommending they wait eight weeks before attempting to get pregnant.
The CDC is continuing to recommend that men who live or travel to an area with active Zika infection and have a pregnant partner use condoms or abstain from sex for the duration of the pregnancy.
The agency also released a report about increasing access to contraception in Puerto Rico. The CDC estimates that about 138,000 women in the country are at risk for unintended pregnancies and are not using some of the most effective forms of birth control. The Department of Health and Human Services is enhancing programs to improve contraceptive access.
So far there have been 273 cases of Zika reported in 35 states in the U.S. and 261 cases reported in Puerto Rico.
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