Friday, March 24, 2017

Stories of Zika: babies with microcephaly begin to grow up

Several weeks ago in an excellent article, the New York Times brought us personal narratives of parents whose lives have been touched by Zika virus. Three families in Brazil were interviewed about how their lives have changed since they had a child born with microcephaly. One mother has had to come to terms with regular two hour bus rides to the city, she gets governmental busing for her child’s appointments, but must walk 40 minutes each way just to reserve her place on the bus. When she arrives at hospitals and therapy sessions, she is sometimes met with wary questioning, as her daughter’s disabilities are so profound that she still cannot track movement with her eyes. She may soon be dropped from therapy, to make way for babies who have better chances of making cognitive strides. The others had their own stories, and it's worth taking a few minutes to read the link below.

For me, the article made me pause to think about all the different sources of knowledge and advice we get when it comes to Zika. Information about this illness in terms of infection rates and transmission has increased rapidly, but we know so little about long term effects of children born with Zika- related disabilities. Where will we learn about them? Will the first generations of babies born with microcephaly simply be guinea pigs? What about their parents? Or will policymakers, caretakers and medical practitioners be able to rise to keep up with these family growing and changing needs as Zika continues its course.

Elisa Hofmeister ‘18

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