Microcephaly – the underdevelopment of the brain is the most common defect associated with Zika virus. But a recent study has shown that the effects of the virus do not stop just at the microcephaly stage.
The spread of Zika virus has been rapid with new cases being reported in Asia and Florida. Much has been written about the outbreak and many people are aware of its devastating effects. The most widely talked about effect is on the foetus development during pregnancy.
However, it is false to believe that all babies exposed to the virus will develop a small head due to the brain shrinking. Actually, scientists believe that only 10 to 20 percent of the babies are affected.
For those who get infected, the symptoms may vary from one baby to the next. Researchers under the leadership of Dr. Amicar Tanuri published a report in JAMA Neurology in which they explained that microcephaly is just but a primary sign of Zika virus. There are many other effects.
The results of this study were made public through a publication at Universidade Federal de Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Brazil was among the first countries to record the outbreak before it spread to other nations and partly Asian continent.
Via Dolman Law group
A twist to our understanding
According to health officials, the findings that Microcephaly is just but one of the Zika effects significantly changes our understanding of the whole issue.
The study involved 11 babies whose amniotic fluid tested positively for Zika virus. Three of these babies died within 48 hours of birth. Out of the 11 study participants, 9 had microcephaly while two had an enlarged head circumference. All the babies had common neurological abnormalities like accumulation of calcium lesions in some parts of the brain, restricted growth and underdevelopment of the brain stem.
What is Microcephaly and severe Microcephaly?
Microcephaly is a situation in which the head of the baby becomes smaller than normal. During pregnancy, the head of the baby will always grow because the brain also growing. In this case, the brain is not developing and thus the head size also remains small.
Microcephaly can occur as an isolated condition. What this means is that microcephaly will happen but major birth defects will not be triggered. In other cases, microcephaly is usually accompanied by major birth defects.
There are cases where severe microcephaly is witnessed, where the baby’s head become far much smaller than normal.
Among the health defects linked to microcephaly are hearing loss, vision problems, seizures, feeding problems and intellectual disability.
Even though this study was done a limited number of babies, it gives a deeper insight on brain development. The results clearly insist on the need for pregnant women to keep off high risk areas.
The World Health Organization no longer considers Zika virus a public health emergency but research is still being done on the treatment.