Developmental outcomes in young children born to mothers with West Nile illness during pregnancy

Birth Defects Res A Clin Mol Teratol. 2014 Oct;100(10):792-6. doi: 10.1002/bdra.23297. Epub 2014 Sep 5.


Background: West Nile virus (WNV) infection is associated with acute morbidity and mortality in adults and children. Information on the effects of maternal WNV illness during pregnancy on early childhood development is limited. This study was designed to examine the relationship between maternal WNV illness during pregnancy and birth and developmental outcomes at age 3 years.

Methods: Mother-child participants were identified using a national surveillance registry for women with WNV illness during pregnancy. Maternal and infant health data and relevant family characteristics were obtained through medical record reviews and maternal questionnaires. All infants received ophthalmologic examinations. Child development was evaluated at age 3 years using the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development-Third Edition (Bayley-III).

Results: As a group, the children's (N = 11) birth weight, head circumference, and infant ophthalmologic examination results were within age expectations; one child was born preterm (gestational age 36 weeks). Mean (SD) age at the time of Bayley-III testing was 36.7 (3.8) months. The group's mean performance on the Bayley-III was at or above age level in all domains, but one child showed a mild delay in the Adaptive domain. The variability observed in this sample (1/53 [1.9%] Domain scores < -2.0 SDs) was consistent with expectations based upon the distribution of Bayley-III Domain scores in the general population.

Conclusion: Maternal WNV infection does not appear to be associated with global developmental delays in young children. These results are preliminary, however, and require confirmation in future research.

Keywords: West Nile virus; early childhood development; infancy; pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anthropometry
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developmental Disabilities / epidemiology*
  • Developmental Disabilities / etiology*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Registries
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology
  • West Nile Fever / complications*
  • West Nile Fever / physiopathology*