Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Doctors Find Continual Zika Virus Damage After Birth

Doctors Find Continual Zika Virus Damage After Birth

The zika virus is a virus that is very dangerous when it is transmitted to a pregnant woman (through the bite of a mosquito), as the virus has already been proven to lead to birth defects on the growing fetus. Such defects include painful reflux, epilepsy and hypertonia.

The specific article that I read, titled "Zika Virus Damages Babies' Brains After Birth, Doctors Report" followed the work of Dr Vanessa Van der Linden from Recife, Brazil, who has been examining 13 babies that had been infected with zika in the women. These 13 babies, originally at birth, had appeared to be unaffected by the virus; nevertheless, after as early as 5 months after birth, the babies ALL had decelerated head growth, and 11/13 babies were diagnosed with microephaly (a smaller than normal head size which can cause the skull to collapse or grow very slowly - microephaly can be very dangerous for developing babies).

Dr. Van der Linden's research is significant, as it demonstrates how scientists still have much to discover and learn about the virus and its impact on people. Furthermore, her research points to the importance of frequently following up on and checking up on infants who had prenatal exposure to the zika virus (both through medical visits, developmental check ins, as well as frequent neuroimaging), as even though a baby can appear to not be influenced by the virus at birth, clearly they could still have defects as a result of the virus that only become clear in later months (or even years).

An image of one of the 13 babies with micrecephaly 

-- Ashley Jowell


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