The Tennessee Department of Health says before the Zika virus gained attention, many people had not heard of a birth defect that affects babies each year in Tennessee.

Microcephaly is a birth defect causing 45-50 Tennessee babies to be born with smaller heads than expected every year. The defect can be associated with developmental delays, intellectual disabilities, problems with hearing or vision and seizures.

To reduce the possibility of Zika-associated birth defects, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises pregnant women in any trimester to consider postponing travel to areas with Zika. CDC also recommends women trying to get pregnant and their male partners talk with their healthcare providers before traveling to areas with Zika. The list of all affected areas includes many countries in the Caribbean and South and Central America.

Doctors say all travelers, male and female, should take precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites.

For more information about preventing birth defects, visit the Center of Disease Control and Prevention website at