Zika virus is an emergent flavivirus transmitted by Aedes
genus mosquitoes that recently reached the Americas and was soon implicated in an increase of microcephaly incidence. The objective of the present study is to systematically review the published data and perform a meta-analysis to estimate the prevalence of microcephaly in babies born to Zika virus-infected women during pregnancy. We searched PubMed and Cochrane databases, included cohort studies, and excluded case reports and case series publications. We extracted sample sizes and the number of microcephaly cases from eight studies, which permitted a calculation of prevalence rates that are pooled in a random-effects model meta-analysis. We estimated the prevalence of microcephaly of 2.3% (95% CI = 1.0–5.3%) among all pregnancies. Limitations include mixed samples of women infected at different pregnancy times, since it is known that infection at the first trimester is associated with higher risk to congenital anomalies. The estimates are deceptively low, given the devastating impact the infection causes over children and their families. We hope our study contributes to public health knowledge to fight Zika virus epidemics to protect mothers and their newborns.
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