Microcephaly Found in Babies of Zika-Infected Mothers Months After Birth
by duponts00 on December 16, 2016 - 11:08pm
The outbreak of the Zika virus had the nation in shock when it reached the United States. However, Zika took a break from making headlines until recently. The New York Times published an aticle about a study of 13 Brazilian babies that were born to mothers infected with the Zika virus during pregnancy who showed no signs of microcephaly at birth, which is a major indicator of brain damage resulting from the virus. According to this study that was published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 11 out of 13 of the babies developed microcephaly less than a year later. This is news that doctors and families feared the most. Microcephaly occurs when the brain stops growing in proportion to the body. At birth, this group of babies had heads that were small, but not small enough to be considered microcephaly. Brain scans that were performed on these babies revealed significant abnormalities including symptoms similar to cerebral palsy such as epileptic seizures, difficulty swallowing, and muscle/joint problems, and inability to move their hands. This array of complications in relation to Zika infected babies is known as congenital Zika syndrome. The area of the brain that is affected most by the damage are associated with motor skill and not vision, therefore, these babies are able to make eye contact and use social smiles. Though the babies in these studies are too young to be examined for deficits in speech and too young to make generalizations about the disease, they still exhibit deficits associated with neurological damage. Almost half (six) of the mothers reported that they had a rash between months 2 and 5 during their pregnancy. With more research, doctors will be able to determine whether or not babies experience more serious effects of the virus if their mothers were infected late in the first trimester. I chose to write about Zika because I hadn’t heard about it in a few months. Everyone talked about Zika during the summer, especially with the Olympics being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. After it got cooler and the mosquitoes started to die down, no one mentioned the virus. I knew Zika was something I never wanted to contract, however, I never stopped to think about what life is like for people who are directly impacted by the Zika virus, like these babies mentioned in this particular study. After reading this article, I am very fortunate not to be infected because children born into this have a much harder battle than I do. This article generated many thought provoking questions for me. Will these babies be able to grow to become adults and live long lives, or will the brain damage be so severe that they do not live past a certain age? Will the mothers have any risks giving birth to other children? Will those children have any chance of developing microcephaly if their siblings have it? Do the muscle complications worsen for these children like they do for people with muscular dystrophy? Only in due time and with more research will scientists be able to determine the answers.