3 Babies Born in US Have Birth Defects Due to Disease, CDC Reports

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control said the babies have brain issues like microcephaly, excess fluid and abnormal eye development. Three other women lost their babies due to the virus, the CDC said.

Three U.S. women infected with the Zika virus lost or terminated pregnancies due to brain-damaged fetuses and three others gave birth to babies with defects, federal health officials reported Thursday.

The chilling revelations are the latest evidence of the mosquito-borne virus’ impact in the United States. Women can pass the virus to their fetuses, and the birth defects cited in the report were detected in infants infected with Zika, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said the new registry was created in anticipation that the virus will soon be transmitted by mosquitoes in the continental U.S.

“The information collected will be crucial for understanding the impact of Zika on pregnancy,” Hotez said.

The primary birth defect caused by Zika is microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with abnormally small heads and incomplete brain development. Babies with the defect often have a range of problems including developmental delay, intellectual disability, problems with movement and balance, hearing loss and vision problems. The effects and severity of Zika-linked microcephaly become more apparent as children grow older.

Other birth defects can include calcium deposits in the brain indicating possible brain damage, excess fluid in the brain cavities and surrounding the brain, absent or poorly formed brain structures, abnormal eye development, or other problems resulting from damage to brain that affects nerves, muscles and bones, such as clubfoot or inflexible joints, the CDC said.

Zika arrived in Brazil a year ago. The World Health Organization declared the virus a public health emergency of international concern in February, and scientists soon detected Zika in dozens of countries and territories in the Caribbean and Latin America.

More than 750 Americans in the continental U.S. have been infected with Zika, including more than 230 cases in pregnant women. One case involved laboratory exposure, while the rest were the result of travel to an outbreak area or sex with an infected traveler. More than 1,400 people have been diagnosed with Zika in Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories, where the disease is spreading among local mosquitoes, according to the CDC.

Most people face no serious risk from Zika infections. Only 20% of patients develop symptoms, which are usually mild, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In rare cases, Zika can cause Guillain-Barre syndrome, a type of paralysis that occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the nerves.

“The bottom line is that we are on a steep learning curve about this virus and its impact on the health of women and children,” Hotez said. “I’m hopeful that this registry will become an important step in shedding some light on this worrisome situation this summer.”

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DeeDee Barker

Writer at The Pluto Daily
Writer/Design/Editor. Born in New Orleans but raised in Philly. DeeDee has been with the Pluto Daily since June 2014.