Brazilian women recently chimed in that over 50 percent of the potential mothers have been avoiding pregnancy due to their fears about the Zika virus. The survey conducted was able to collect data through face-to-face questionnaires as well as ones slipped in secret ballot boxes from 2,002 urban, literate Brazilian woman between the ages of 18 to 39. They collected data about women’s reproductive health and pregnancy, and even received information about abortion experiences. Only 27 percent said they hadn’t tried to avoid pregnancy, with 56 percent claiming that they were avoiding it, and the other 16 percent claiming they had already not been planning on getting pregnant as it was.
This widespread fear of getting pregnant is especially present in Brazil since they have been the country hit the hardest so far. There have been 2,200 cases of microcephaly, a birth defect that causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads and more often than not leads to serious developmental problems that can lead to the child requiring a lifetime of personal medical care and a vastly shortened lifespan. This study gives an important peek into how the Zika virus is affecting Brazilian women and their pregnancy desires and intentions. It also could be a good indication of how women across the globe may all eventually be affected by the virus. The dangers are so high for pregnant women and their babies that perhaps women around the world will be deciding to avoid pregnancy for years to come due to fears about the Zika virus. Birth rates could drop dramatically.
These new findings also suggest that Brazil may need to take a serious look at changing some of their reproductive health policies, placing reproductive health concerns at the top of their priority list in their response to the Zika virus. Women need better access to safe and effective contraceptives for one, and many health experts believe the government should lift the ban on abortion considering the kind of serious health issues the Zika virus causes in babies, as well as the emotional and financial toll it puts on the mother of infants born with severe birth defects due the virus.
This could be just the beginning of women avoiding pregnancy all over the world. In the U.S. there have already been 32 cases of Zika-linked birth defects in infants reported, and that number is likely to rise in the coming months and years. 1,172 of the reported cases of the Zika virus in the U.S. have involved pregnant mothers, and a recent study estimated that 6 percent of those infected pregnant women will have babies with Zika-linked birth defects.
Do you think the Zika virus will end up causing a significant worldwide drop in birth rates? How could this effect the countries, governments, and people on this planet?