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If My Daughter Gets Zika, Will It Affect Her Pregnancies Later In Life? Probably Not


The Zika virus is especially threatening to pregnant women and their unborn baby’s health, but the mosquito-borne illness doesn’t always pose the same dangers to men or women who aren’t pregnant. The widespread outbreak understandably has parents concerned about their children and might be asking the question: If my daughter gets Zika, will it affect her pregnancies later in life? While there is still much to be learned about the virus, current research leads health officials to believe that Zika can’t hurt a woman’s future pregnancies.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there's no evidence that the Zika virus will affect future fetuses among non-pregnant women with current or previous infections. This is because the virus typically leaves a person’s bloodstream in about two weeks, and as long as enough time has passed there is no possibility that it can be the source of the devastating birth defects Zika has been linked to, such as microcephaly, or abnormally small heads, and undeveloped brains.

While the virus leaves a person's blood relatively quickly, the CDC advises women who have had a Zika infection to wait at least eight weeks after the start of their symptoms before attempting to conceive. Male partners who have had Zika should wait as long as six months.

CAROLINA, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 2: Yamelie Santiago, 35 and 6 months pregnant, and her husband Carlos Rivera, 30, discuss ways to prevent Zika with an OBGYN at the Centro MAM, an independent natural birth clinic which promotes natural births and uses midwifes on September 2, 2016 in Carolina, Puerto Rico. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that 25% of the Puerto Rico's population could have the Zika Virus by the end of mosquito season, and that up to 50 pregnant women each day are infected on the island. A recent study projected as many as 270 babies could be born with the debilitating birth defect microcephaly, between now and mid-2017. In a normal year, doctors expect to see just 16 such cases. (Photo by Angel Valentin/Getty Images)Angel Valentin/Getty Images News/Getty Images

In an interview with health and medicine news site STAT, Dr. Denise Jamieson, a senior member of the CDC’s Zika response team, explained that a previous Zika infection shouldn’t affect future pregnancies because of how it fast the virus is believed to leave a future mom’s bloodstream.

"It’s only when you’re pregnant or around the time of conception, and there’s virus circulating, that it can then be passed to the fetus. That’s the time of concern," Jamieson told STAT back in April. "What happens is that virus is circulating in the mom’s blood, and we think it gets passed to the fetus."

He added, "The Zika virus only stays in the blood a relatively short amount of time, and once the virus has cleared from the blood, there’s no concern about future pregnancies."

RECIFE, BRAZIL - JUNE 02: Babies with microcephalia are held by family members at a rehabilitation clinic on June 2, 2016 in Recife, Brazil. Microcephaly is a birth defect linked to the Zika virus where infants are born with abnormally small heads. The Brazilian city of Recife and surrounding Pernambuco state remain the epicenter of the Zika virus outbreak, which has now spread to many countries in the Americas. A group of health experts recently called for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games to be postponed or cancelled due to the Zika threat but the WHO (World Health Organization) rejected the proposal. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)Mario Tama/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Women who are planning on conceiving and have been to or live in Zika-affected areas should speak with a health professional about getting tested for the virus so they can plan their future pregnancies, as much as possible.

Researchers and health officials have been working tirelessly to learn everything they can about Zika because there are still many unknowns. But, what they have learned, including the fact that current research shows that a Zika infection does not harm future pregnancies, is a big step towards in solving the Zika puzzle.