Zika virus back in Singapore: how will it affect your unborn baby?

March 30, 2017
  • 1 / 8

    By the end of last year, over 450 people here had been diagnosed with the Zika virus. And now, the first Zika cluster of 2017 was detected in Simon Place, near Kovan in Hougang.

    Two locally transmitted cases had been confirmed. This means the patients didn’t travel to Zika-infected places, but contradicted it in Singapore.

    Both are from the same household, and The Straits Times understands that neither person is pregnant.

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  • 2 / 8

    There have been six other isolated cases of the Zika virus this year.

    Singapore’s first locally transmitted case was detected in August last year, while the last cluster was closed in December last year.

    If you are pregnant or trying to conceive, here’s what you need to know about Zika.

    Also, do your part to prevent the aedes mosquito, which spreads Zika and dengue, from breeding.

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  • Who is at greatest risk?
    3 / 8 Who is at greatest risk?

    Unborn babies are the most at risk should their mothers become infected with the Zika virus. Between 1 per cent and 10 per cent of women infected during pregnancy give birth to babies with defects.

    The most common defect is microcephaly, where the baby is born with a much smaller head, sloping forehead and damaged brain.

    Related: Insurance for pregnancy: coverage for Zika and other policies mums can buy


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  • Is the baby at risk throughout the pregnancy?
    4 / 8 Is the baby at risk throughout the pregnancy?

    The risk is highest during the first trimester and the early part of the second trimester of pregnancy, says Associate Professor Arijit Biswas, head of obstetrics and gynaecology at the National University Hospital.

    Though the risk is lower in the third trimester, the virus could still cause fatal outcomes such as stillbirth.


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  • If a pregnant woman has Zika, what can be done to prevent its effects on the baby?
    5 / 8 If a pregnant woman has Zika, what can be done to prevent its effects on the baby?

    “Once the mother is infected, there is nothing much we can do to prevent the effect on the baby,” says Dr Derrick Heng, group director for public health at the Health Ministry. However, more than nine in 10 pregnant women infected with Zika will deliver normal babies.


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  • What can pregnant women do to protect their babies?
    6 / 8 What can pregnant women do to protect their babies?

    They need to take stringent precautions against becoming infected. This includes preventing themselves from getting bitten by mosquitoes, by wearing long-sleeve tops and slacks, and using mosquito repellents.

    Another precaution is to ensure that women have only protected sex during pregnancy, since the virus can also be passed through bodily fluids. Four in five people who become infected with Zika do not show any symptoms but could be infectious, so the fact that the husband is not sick is no guarantee that he does not have the virus.

    Related: How does the Zika virus affect children?

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  • What can a pregnant woman do if she has Zika?
    7 / 8 What can a pregnant woman do if she has Zika?

    Her doctor will monitor the development of the baby. If it is confirmed to have a major defect, and it is within 24 weeks of conception, abortion is a choice.

    Related: How much does Zika test cost for pregnant women?

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  • What are the symptoms?
    8 / 8 What are the symptoms?

    Symptoms of Zika include a fever, an itchy rash, body aches, headache, red eyes and, occasionally, nausea and vomiting.

    Related: Mosquito bites on babies: how to treat and prevent

    (Photos: 123RF.com)

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