Three babies have been born with Zika virus-linked birth defects in the United States and three more died before birth because of the defects, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced.
Officials said that although the birth defects occurred in pregnant women who tested positive for the Zika virus, it is unknown whether the disease or “other factors” caused the outcomes, the CDC said in a statement this week.
“These numbers reflect poor outcomes among pregnancies with laboratory evidence of possible Zika virus infection reported to the U.S. Zika Pregnancy Registry,” officials said in the statement.
“To protect the privacy of the women and children affected by Zika, CDC is not reporting individual state, tribal, territorial or jurisdictional level data.”
Zika Virus: What You Need to Know
Meanwhile, the CDC announced that 234 pregnant women in the U.S., – both visitors and residents – have been diagnosed with the virus, NBC News reports.
Another 189 cases of the virus have been reported in U.S. territories including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
“Unfortunately, I think it is not surprising. I think it is consistent with what we have seen in Brazil and Colombia,” said Dr. Denise Jamieson, who spearheads the agency’s watch on pregnancies affected by the virus.
Officials cautioned pregnant women, or women who may become pregnant, to avoid Zika-affected areas, NBC reports.
Jamieson said that as the number of babies born with Zika-linked birth defects rises, the agency will be able to release more information, according to the New York Times.
“We’re sort of in a hard place We don’t want to inadvertently disclose information about difficult decisions these women are making about their pregnancies,” she said.
She added: “The pattern we are seeing in other places is the same as in U.S. travelers – that Zika is causing birth defects is real.”
“It’s not confined to one location or time period.”