Tampa obstetrician has Zika warning for women: ‘Delay getting pregnant’

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — You know it’s serious when a well-known obstetrician is telling her patients not to get pregnant right now.

Dr. Jill Hechtman talks about babies all day, every day. These days, there’s also a warning she delivers daily. “Never have I ever imagined that I would be telling a pregnant woman to use condoms,” Dr. Hechtman told WFLA.

The Tampa obstetrician doesn’t mince words with moms to be when it comes to the Zika virus. She tells them straight up – if you’re of childbearing age, and you want to have a baby, don’t do it.

“I never really said that before, and it’s obviously bad for business, Right now, if you can delay, delay. There are so many unanswered questions, it’s better to know when we have more information,” Dr. Hechtman admits. Pregnant women are in serious danger if they contract the virus. They risk delivering a baby with severe developmental problems, such as microcephaly.

In fact, Dr. Hechtman points out something very important for women who are having fertility problems.

“Currently, we’re not sure how long the virus stays in semen,” she said.

RELATED: Florida offers free Zika test kits for pregnant women

Dr. Mary Ashley Cain, an obstetrician with Tampa General Hospital-University of South Florida, finds herself in a unique situation. She is 8-months pregnant and is not only advising patients, but also heeding the warnings. She advises patients and their partners against traveling to Zika-prone areas. “If you’re concerned your partner has this, you should use protection,” she told us.

Dr. Cain sees patients on a daily basis who are worried. She, herself, uses products with DEET in them, along with Citronella candles. She advises any woman of child-bearing age to have a very serious conversation with a physician before planting a pregnancy.

“It’s something women in this area of Florida should take into consideration when planning future pregnancies. It’s not a question of if, but a question of when it’s gonna be in this area,” she said.

RELATED: What to know about the Zika Virus

Dr. Hechtman, in particular, is worried about flood-ravaged Louisiana right now. “There’s a lot of standing water, and that’s the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. I would like to see more conversations on a national level about this. I am truly worried,” said Dr. Hechtman.

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