EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — A new study from Michigan State University shows that the Zika virus can halt embryo development in early stages of pregnancy.

The research, which was published July 28 in the scientific journal Development, signals that health risks posed by the virus may be greater than previously known.

Researchers said the knowledge will help people better prepare for future Zika outbreaks.

Doctors can work with patients who are expecting or attempting to conceive children take stronger precautions to avoid Zika’s most severe outcomes, including miscarriage and birth defects.

The study’s authors Jennifer Watts and Amy Ralson hope their work will contribute future studies examining how other diseases, such as the leading infectious cause of birth defects, cytomegalovirus, affect early pregnancy.

“Hopefully, this can be a push to look at what other viruses and bacteria could be causing embryo demise, specifically in these early stages,” Watts said.

Watts worked on the study as a doctoral student in Ralston’s laboratory in the MSU College of Natural Science. She is now a postdoctoral scientist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio.

Important assistance in Watts and Ralston’s study also came from the lab of Zhiyong Xi, an MSU professor in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics.

You can read Watts and Ralston’s study published in Development here.