The birth defects of six babies and fetuses in the United States were linked to the Zika virus. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the mothers were infected with the virus during their pregnancies.
Three women gave birth to babies with Zika-related birth defects, including brain damage and microcephaly.
The other three women lost their babies due to stillbirth, miscarriage or termination of pregnancy. These fetuses also suffered from birth defects related to the Zika virus.
The data was based on the CDC's Zika pregnancy registry as of June 9 collected from states across the U.S. and the District of Columbia. All of the infections were related to travel.
The majority of the pregnant women in the United States that contracted the virus traveled to areas where the Zika virus was circulating locally. CDC Director Tom Frieden said that around two women were infected through sexual intercourse.
As of June 9, a total of 234 pregnant women in the United States tested positive for the mosquito-borne virus with over half of the pregnancies still ongoing.
CDC's Dr. Denise Jamieson said the agency is only reporting Zika-linked birth defects in completed pregnancies. Jamieson is the CDC's pregnancy and birth defects task force co-lead.
"This highlights the importance of preventing unintended pregnancies, avoiding mosquito bites and for pregnant women to avoid traveling to areas with ongoing Zika virus transmission," said Jamieson, adding that the data shows a "very consistent pattern" that underscores how Zika is causing severe brain defects and microcephaly.
The health agency's current estimation is that a pregnant woman who contracted the Zika virus during her first trimester has a 1 percent to 13 percent chance that her unborn baby will have microcephaly.
"The bottom line is that we are on a steep learning curve about this virus and its impact on the health of women and children. I'm hopeful that this registry will become an important step in shedding some light on this worrisome situation this summer," said Peter Hotez, Baylor College of Medicine's National School of Tropical Medicine dean.
Just last week, a female lab researcher accidentally contracts the Zika virus after accidentally piercing herself with an infected needle. The Zika virus is primarily transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquito. The CDC is prepared to send rapid-response teams to communities where the virus starts transmitting locally.