Scarred by Zika, Brazilian women say ‘no’ to pandemic pregnancies

The Zika epidemic caused widespread fear among Brazilian women of reproductive age, as the virus was linked to birth defects. A similar scare has been seen during the Covid-19 pandemic

zika fears covid pandemic
Brazil set new Covid-19 records in 2021, with up to 4,000 people dying per day. Photo: Antonio Scorza/Shutterstock

“We have to avoid pregnancy,” said Rosa, about the possibility of having a child during the Covid-19 pandemic. “I don’t want to have a baby. What I went through in 2017 when I had Raíssa, God forbid.”

Living in the northeastern Brazilian state of Pernambuco, Rosa’s first child Raíssa was born during the Zika epidemic, the mosquito-borne disease that can cause severe birth defects when contracted during pregnancy.

Between 2015 and 2017, some 3,700 babies in Brazil were born with Zika-related microcephaly, a congenital malformation by which children are born with abnormally small heads. These babies are now...

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