Findings of a research published in the New England Journal of Medicine reveals that the rate of abortion demands in Latin America, where the Zika Virus is most prevalent has increased.

According to the research, the demand for abortion has doubled in the region.

Many governments in the region have advised women not to get pregnant due to the risk of babies being born with tiny brains.

Since abortion is illegal in many parts of Latin America, women seek unofficial providers, one of which is Women on Web, an organization that advises women on abortion and delivers pills to end pregnancy.

The researchers analysed the thousands of requests received by Women on Web in the five years before the Pan American Health Organization issued its warning on Zika on 17 November 2015.

The analysis of countries that advised against getting pregnant suggested Brazil and Ecuador had more than twice the expected demand for abortions.

Analysis from other countries, which did not advise against pregnancy, suggested smaller increases in abortion demand.

Dr. Catherine Aiken, one of the researchers, from the University of Cambridge, told the BBC News website: “Everywhere governments said, ‘Don’t get pregnant’ and there was Zika transmission, there was a tremendous surge in the number of women taking matters into their own hands.

“There were huge increases in abortions across the region.”

Zika virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitoes.

People with Zika virus disease can have symptoms including mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days.

Infant whose mother was infected with Zika virus during pregnancy is at a risk of contracting Zika virus in in the utero.

Infants can also be infected prenatally if the mother has Zika virus infection within approximately 2 weeks prior to delivery.

Hence the reason why governments in Latin America have been advised women to delay pregnancy for the time being.

Author: Ope Adedeji