The World Health Organization says women who live in areas where Zika is spreading should consider delaying pregnancy, since there's no other sure way to avoid the virus' devastating birth defects.

The WHO stops short of advising couples to put pregnancy on hold, as some countries battling the outbreak have. Instead, WHO spokeswoman Nyka Alexander says on Thursday that men and women who live in outbreak areas should be given information about the risks of Zika and told that delaying pregnancy is an option.

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Zika is rapidly spreading through Latin American and the Caribbean. Health officials have long advised pregnant women not to travel to Zika-affected areas, and say returning travelers should use contraception or avoid sex for certain time periods if they were exposed or infected.