Reality television star Kailyn Lowry is enjoying her last few weeks as a mother of two children.
According to her Instagram account, the former “Teen Mom 2” star is currently visiting the U.S. Virgin Islands with her sons.
She wrote on Instagram:
Baby Lo & I are in St. Thomas! No filter needed.
Last week she also went on a solo babymoon trip to Puerto Rico.
During both trips, fans have been critical of the young mom, as she has chosen to visit locations where Zika is a concern. She responded to criticism on Instagram stating that she had spoken to her doctor:
I haven’t seen a mosquito yet. But I have bug spray […] I asked my doctor…. there are cases of Zika in the states as well so…? I would ask your doctor and go by what he/she says.
Zika is transmitted through infected mosquitoes and unprotected sex with an infected partner.
The CDC recommends that pregnant women should not travel to countries at risk for Zika and consider postponing travel to Zika cautionary areas. Both Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are currently considered at risk for Zika.
If travel is necessary to Zika risk countries, women should consult their doctor ahead of the visit, receive testing after the visit regardless of symptoms, and use protective measures to prevent mosquito bites.
In an interview with Dearly, Susan Sherman, teratogen information specialist at MotherToBaby.org, said there is a plethora of misinformation about Zika on the internet:
“The CDC recommendations have not changed. If Zika is in the region, the organization recommends not traveling if pregnant. That’s the policy and they are being conservative because there are lives on the line. But sometimes people have to travel and we are here to help them make informed decisions.”
MotherToBaby.org is the resource that the CDC recommends to pregnant moms who might have questions concerning Zika. Sherman said the most common questions she addresses are around transmission, testing, and Zika’s impact on future fertility.
She recommended that pregnant women reach out to MotherToBaby before traveling to Zika risk or cautionary areas:
“We’re learning more about the disease every day. If you are traveling, look up latest information online and call us. We can very quickly and easily and help women to make their decision to travel and how to protect themselves if they need to go. The number to reach 855-999-3525. If they would like to speak to a teratogen expert they can call 866-626-6847.”
To address Kailyn’s comment on the spread of infected mosquitoes in the U.S., Sherman explained that in places such as Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, Zika is endemic. Therefore, locals have built up an immunity to the disease and the transmission rate will appear lower in these regions.
“If someone is exposed to Zika and had not been before, then it is definitely a risk for the unborn baby. But that’s a personal decision that people have to make when traveling.”
Acting CDC Director Dr. Anne Schuchat told NBC News that even though the threat may appear diminished in areas such as Puerto Rico — which recently declared the Zika epidemic had ended — parents should remain vigilant to protect their children:
“We continue to urge pregnant women to avoid travel to areas where Zika is spreading and that includes Puerto Rico. We can’t predict exactly how much Zika will be spreading these next several months or the next several years. But cases continue to occur. The vector is there.”
According to data collected by the CDC, an estimated 3,920 pregnant women living in U.S. territories have been infected with Zika. Of that number 2,549 have had their babies and 120 of them had a related birth defect.
Schuchat said that the threat increases in summer months, when mosquitoes are active and people are traveling. She added:
“Zika virus poses a serious threat to pregnant women and their babies […] I think the bottom line for women is that there is no doubt that Zika virus during pregnancy diagnosed during any trimester can lead to birth defects. It’s very important to get tested […] and to have the baby followed up carefully. This is a very dangerous virus in the pregnancy setting.”
In May, Lowry recently became the first “Teen Mom” to graduate with a bachelor’s degree. She’s expected to give birth to her third child with Chris Lopez in late July or beginning of August. The newborn will be the first baby Lopez and Lowry have had together.
For now, she’s enjoying her trip in the sun and shaking off the negative comments about her tummy scar, her bikini pictures, and her personal decision to vacation in Zika-risk countries while pregnant.