The World Health Organization says women who live in areas where Zika is spreading should consider delaying pregnancy, since there's no other sure way to avoid the virus' devastating birth defects.
The WHO stopped short of recommending that couples put pregnancy on hold.
"It's not saying they should delay. They should be given the information about it and offered that as an option," WHO spokeswoman Nyka Alexander said Thursday.
Zika is rapidly spreading through Latin America and the Caribbean, and health officials in several affected countries have made similar recommendations. But the WHO's guidelines, updated last week, could affect millions of couples who live in outbreak areas.
Zika causes only a mild and brief illness, at worst, in most people. But it can cause fetal death and severe brain defects in the children of women infected during pregnancy.
There is no vaccine. In outbreak areas, the main defense is to avoid mosquito bites. But Zika also can be spread through unprotected sex with a man who was infected.
Around the world, health officials have advised pregnant women not to travel to areas where Zika is spreading. And the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has additional advice for non-pregnant travelers: Women should wait at least eight weeks after a Zika illness, or possible exposure to the virus, before trying to conceive. Men who had symptoms should wait at least six months before trying, the CDC recommends.
Source: Associated Press