T&T: Fear of birth defects causing women to abort

Trinidad Express:-AT least four pregnant women have either undergone an abortion or are contemplating abortion as a result of being diagnosed with the Zika virus.

According to gynaecologist Dr Sherene Kalloo, women who had Zika during their pregnancy were traumatised and suffered sleepless nights for fear of what could happen to their unborn child.

Abortion is illegal in Trinidad and Tobago except if it poses a health risk to the pregnant mother and Health Minister Terrance Deyalsingh had said there were no immediate plans to amend the law.

There are now more than 200 recorded cases of Zika in Trinidad and Tobago, with at least 60 cases diagnosed in pregnant women.
Kalloo told the Express: “They (pregnant women) can’t sleep at night. They are in tears, they are crying. They are upset because they don’t know if their child is going to be normal or not. So instead of waiting until their pregnancy is five months to find out, they take it upon themselves to terminate the pregnancy. Within the last few weeks, I would have had about four or five patients who would have already either did it or making a decision regarding terminating their pregnancies and there would be another four or five to make the decision to keep the pregnancy.”

Research has shown that babies born from pregnant mothers who contracted the mosquito-borne virus can be diagnosed with the birth defect microcephaly.

Kalloo said: “These are patients, some have been diagnosed by blood test, some have been clinically and some are patients now being diagnosed with a pregnancy and they haven’t crossed that eight-week marker.”

She said in the first trimester of a pregnancy, it would not be determined if the child would contract microcephaly.

“If a woman has been with the Zika virus before she achieves a pregnancy, she should avoid getting pregnant for at least eight weeks,” she advises.
The doctor added: “I think the lack of education is a problem as well as the lack of information regarding Zika is also deficient and that is still because test are ongoing.”
She added further research was showing that once a person contracted the virus, that person was immune for life from it.