According to the study, 1 in 100 women who contract the Zika virus within the first trimester of their pregnancy have an increased risk of microcephaly.
Authors of the study said: “This study provides strong statistical support for the suspected association between infection with Zika virus and mircocephaly.
“Our findings support the need for a strong and prompt response to protect, inform and monitor pregnant women and to provide strong research agendas to clarify the casual link between Zika virus and microcephaly and develop effective treatment and vaccine.”
The study’s co-author Dr Simon Cauchemez, from the Institut Pasteur in Paris, says the research provides further evidence that there is a link between the birth defect and virus.
The study used serological and surveillance data to assess confirmed cases of microcephaly during the outbreak of the Zika virus in French Polynesia, between October 2013 and April 2014.
Within this period, 66% of the population were infected with the Zika virus. Eight cases of microcephaly were confirmed, with seven cases occurring within 4 months before the end of the outbreak.
Researchers used mathematical and statistical modelling to estimate the risk of microcephaly across six different stages of pregnancy – trimesters one and two, trimesters one, two and three, trimester two, trimesters two and three, and trimester three only.
Taking data from the total number of cases, the study estimated that 1 in 100 pregnant women who contracted the Zika virus in the first trimester had an increased risk of microcephaly.
Read the study on The Lancet website.
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