U.S. study of nine pregnant women who traveled shows Zika virus in some

CHICAGO A study of nine pregnant women from the United States who traveled to countries where the Zika virus was circulating shows two had miscarriages, two had abortions, two had apparently healthy children, and one child was born with severe microcephaly, U.S. health officials said on Friday.

Doctors were still following the two remaining pregnancies, which so far appear to be progressing without complications, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Brazil is investigating thousands of cases of babies born with abnormally small heads thought to be linked with Zika, a mosquito-borne virus circulating in Latin America and the Caribbean.

In this small case series, Zika virus infection during pregnancy was associated with a range of outcomes, including early pregnancy losses, congenital microcephaly, and apparently healthy infants, the CDC said. Microcephaly is a birth defect associated with undersized heads and developmental problems.

More information will be available in the future from a new CDC registry for U.S. pregnant women with confirmed Zika virus infection and their infants.

An analysis of some cases showed the virus had crossed the placenta and affected the fetuses.

In one, a woman traveled to a Zika-affected area when she was five weeks pregnant. Antibody testing confirmed a recent

Zika infection. The mother miscarried at eight weeks gestation, and an analysis of the fetus detected Zika virus.

In another, a woman in her 30s had traveled to a Zika-affected area when she was about 12 weeks pregnant. Shortly after her return, she developed a fever, eye pain, body aches and a rash. Testing confirmed a recent Zika infection.

In another of the cases, a woman who had lived in Brazil gave birth to an infant with severe microcephaly. The CDC did not release details on where the baby was born. In January, the CDC released details of a case of a U.S. woman who had lived in Brazil and gave birth to a microcephalic baby in Hawaii.

On Jan. 15, 2016, the CDC issued an advisory telling pregnant women to consider postponing travel to areas with active transmission of Zika virus.

Much remains unknown about Zika, including whether the virus actually causes microcephaly in babies.

Brazil has confirmed more than 580 cases of microcephaly, and considers most of them to be related to Zika infections in the mothers. Brazil is investigating an additional 4,100 suspected cases of microcephaly.

(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; Editing by David Gregorio)

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