HEADLINES Published February3, 2016 By Beatrice Asuncion

Zika Virus Outbreak 2016: Yet Another Birth Defect Spreading in the U.S

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Birth Defect
(Photo : Getty Images - Muhannad Fala'ah)

Just this week, the Center for Disease Control confirmed the first case of Zika contracted in the U.S. mainland. According to the agency's announcement, the virus has been transmitted sexually. Health officials have since advised women hoping to get pregnant to consult with a professional about the possibility of their partner contracting Zika.

"Based on what we know now, the best way to avoid Zika virus infection is to prevent mosquito bites AND to avoid exposure to semen from someone who has been exposed to Zika virus or has been ill from Zika virus infection" explained the CDC in an email sent to The Guardian.

Despite the fanfare and alarm surrounding the spread of Zika in the United States, it seems like there is one more birth defect pregnant women should be wary about.

The Center for Disease Control recently published a press release detailing the increase of gastroschisis  cases in the U.S. According to the researchers from the government body, the instances of babies afflicted with gastroschisis  has more than doubled in the past 18 years. To date the statistics had gone from 2 cases per 10,000 live births to 4 cases in 10,000 live births.

"It concerns us that we don't know why more babies are being born with this serious birth defect. Public health research is urgently needed to figure out the cause and why certain women are at higher risk of having a baby born with gastroschisis" explained Coleen Boyle, director for CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.

Gastroschisis is a physical abnormality that occurs when the intestinal wall of a fetus do not develop properly causing the intestines to develop outside through an opening in the skin. The birth defect is usually diagnosed within the second trimester since during the first trimester intestines do not have a permanent position in the embryo's forming body.  

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