New CDC figures for Zika-related defects in babies in the U.S.

Remember the Zika outbreak of 2016? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released some statistics about the number of babies with Zika-related birth defects that year in the 15 states that had local outbreaks, including areas of Texas.

Maria da Luz Mendes Santos holds her daughter, Heloyse, who was born with microcephaly. Katie Falkenberg/Los Angeles Times

Here’s what it found:

  • 3 out of every 1,000 babies born in those areas had a birth defect possibly associated to Zika in their mother
  • Half of those had brain abnormalities or microcephaly
  • 20 percent had neural tube defects or other early brain abnormalities
  • 9 percent had eye abnormalities without a brain abnormality
  • 22 percent had nervous system damage including joint problems and deafness

But here’s the weird thing: Most of the babies born with Zika-related illnesses were born to mothers who didn’t test positive for Zika, either because they were not tested, were not tested at the right time or had no evidence of the disease in their bodies.

The CDC is expected the numbers to rise as data is collected on babies born in 2017.


Author: Nicole Villalpando

Nicole Villalpando writes about families in the Raising Austin blog and the Raising Austin column on Saturdays. She also offers a weekly and monthly family calendar at She tweets at @raisingaustin.

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