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Prospective Study of Pregnancy and Newborn Outcomes in Mothers with West Nile Illness during Pregnancy
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  • Alternative Title:
    Birth Defects Res A Clin Mol Teratol
  • Description:

    A previous case report of West Nile virus (WNV) illness during pregnancy suggested that WNV could be a cause of congenital defects. We performed a prospective, longitudinal cohort study of pregnant women with WNV illness to increase our knowledge of the effects of WNV illness during pregnancy.


    Participants were enrolled in 2005 to 2008 from pregnant women with serologically confirmed WNV illness reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Comparison was made to WNV-uninfected women, matched on maternal age and enrollment month. Pregnancy and newborn data were collected; cord blood WNV serology was obtained. Pediatric exams and the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development-Third Edition (Bayley-III) were performed.


    Twenty-eight WNV-infected mothers and 25 WNV-uninfected mothers participated. Maternal demographics were similar except for a higher rate of planned pregnancies, education, and household income in the WNV-uninfected mothers. There were no differences in pregnancy and delivery characteristics except that infected mothers had a higher incidence of febrile illnesses and used more medications. Birth weight, length, head circumference, and rate of congenital malformations were similar in babies born to WNV-infected and -uninfected mothers. Follow-up physical exams were generally normal. The Bayley-III assessments, available for 17 children born to mothers with WNV illness, showed performance at or above age level across domains.


    The risk for adverse pregnancy and newborn outcomes in women experiencing WNV illness in pregnancy appears to be low, but future studies with larger numbers are needed to rule out a small risk.

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