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article imageNew concerns over Zika birth defects

By Tim Sandle     Oct 3, 2016 in Health
Austin - The association of Zika virus disease with the birth defect microcephaly has been widely reported. As more data is gathered, research from Brazil shows this is just one of several birth defect related concerns.
Over the course of 2016, including the build-up to the Olympics, the risks to pregnant women (or women hoping to become pregnant in the near future) was clear. This focused on a condition called microcephaly (a birth defect marked by a small, misshapen head.)
As further data is gathered, Science News reports, the defect can have other symptoms, too. This includes 24-hour crying bouts, spasms, extreme irritability and difficulty swallowing. In the Americas, it is now estimated that tens of thousands of children will suffer from a neurologic or psychiatric illness triggered by Zika virus.
Such is the extent of birth related issue, Zika virus infection in utero is being called by scientists “congenital Zika syndrome.” This array of conditions was the focal point at a recent U.S. National Institutes of Health symposium which took place in North Bethesda.
Other neurologic disorders discussed included learning disabilities or developmental delays. This is to the extent that medics are now referring to the effects of Zika on the new-born as a spectrum of diseases. Importantly these effects can occur with children who show no sign of microcephaly. Some asymptomatic children appear to go on to have problems as they grow older, including intellectual disabilities, hearing loss or cerebral palsy. Another observed effect is the formation of an eye oddity. The journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report further reports on some cases of hearing loss.
Some of this information has come from the dramatic build-up in cases from Puerto Rico. To date the U.S. territory has seen 22,358 confirmed cases of Zika infection. Further information is likely to be built-up as researchers track and monitor selected babies and infants as they grow older.
In related news, a different type of mosquito to the type found in South America could also be capable of spreading the Zika virus. This is the southern house mosquito, Culex quinquefasciatus, which is common in the Americas. The positive association has been confirmed through studies conducted at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.
More about Zika virus, Birth defects, zika, Babies
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