In 2016, Colombia saw a surge in babies with microcephaly — more than four times the number reported in 2015. The country documented 476 cases of debilitating birth defects from January 31 to November 12, researchers note December 16 in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During the same period in 2015, there were just 110 cases. “This provides very compelling evidence that every country that experiences a large Zika outbreak is likely to see devastating outcomes on fetuses and infants,” says CDC epidemiologist Peggy Honein.
Microcephaly cases hit a high point in Colombia in July 2016, about 24 weeks after Zika virus infections peaked there. The time lag suggests that Zika poses the greatest risk to pregnant women in the first and early second trimesters.