Daily Health Headlines

New Zika Threat to Babies: Late-Onset Microcephaly

👤by Brenda Goodman 0 comments 🕔Friday, August 12th, 2016

By Brenda Goodman, MA

Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD

Aug. 8, 2016 -- CDC researchers have made a startling discovery about microcephaly, a devastating birth defect caused by the Zika virus: It can affect babies late into a mother's pregnancy and not become apparent until months after they are born.

Up to now, researchers have said babies were most susceptible to the virus when a woman was infected early in a pregnancy. Babies who have the devastating condition generally have abnormally small heads at birth.

But in the newly described form of microcephaly -- dubbed late-onset microcephaly -- babies appear to have normally sized heads at birth, but their damaged brains have stopped growing. By about 6 months of age, they have developed microcephaly because their head size hasn't kept up with normal growth, said William Dobyns, MD, professor of pediatrics and neurology at Seattle Children's Hospital. Dobyns has been studying brain injuries in Zika-infected babies.

The condition was observed by CDC researchers who are following more than 1,200 Zika-affected pregnancies in Brazil, said Ted Pestorius, an assistant incident manager for the CDC's Zika response. The finding has not been published in a medical journal.

Previously, scientists have described a fetal brain defect associated with Zika that causes the brain to shrink and the skull to collapse while a baby is still in the womb. Published case reports have also described a kind of late-onset microcephaly that doctors can't detect on ultrasound scans but diagnose shortly after birth.

Pestorius shared the discovery with media attending a Zika briefing arranged by the Georgia Department of Economic Development on Wednesday. The CDC did not immediately provide more details about the study.

Cesar Victora, MD, PhD, an epidemiologist with the Universidade Federal de Pelotas, in Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil, and part of the team that's been carefully documenting the outcomes of babies born to Zika-infected mothers in Brazil, confirmed that these cases were occurring. He said his colleagues have treated some of the babies.

The babies with late-onset microcephaly have been born to mothers infected during the third trimesters of their pregnancies, Pestorius said.

Dobyns said he's wary of that. "Connecting that to a third-trimester exposure is very premature," he said. He said he's familiar with the unpublished data, and it's based on relatively few cases.

Researchers had initially thought that Zika was most damaging when infection occurred during the early weeks of pregnancy, when a baby's organs are still forming. The possibility that Zika may continue to cause severe damage later in pregnancy means unborn babies may be vulnerable to its effects at any time during their development.

However, Dobyns said based on his research, it's clear that Zika-infected babies can be born with normal head sizes and severe brain injuries.

"There's a lot of things to worry about here," he said.

In his briefing, Pestorius also updated reporters on the investigation into the puzzling case of nonsexual Zika transmission in Utah, where a dying man apparently passed the virus to a son who was taking care of him.

Pestorius said the case was "an outlier" because the older man had such high amounts of virus in his body. He said investigators have assessed the various ways the son might have come into contact with his father's bodily fluids, and it appears that the son may have caught the virus as he wiped his father's tears.

He said the CDC is considering whether it needs to revise its guidelines for medical professionals and others who may care for people infected with Zika.

Article Credits / Source

Brenda Goodman / WebMD

Brenda Goodman wrote this story for WebMD. WebMD provides up to the minute breaking health news. Click here to view this full article from WebMD.

SOURCES: Media briefing, CDC. Ted Pestorius, management officer, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, CDC, Atlanta. Cesar Victora, MD, PhD, epidemiologist, Universidade Federal de Pelotas, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. William Dobyns, MD, professor of pediatrics and neurology, Seattle Children's Hospital.

View More Articles From Brenda Goodman 🌎View Article Website

Sponsored Product

Lunar Sleep for $1.95

Lunar Sleep for $1.95

People who have trouble sleeping typically have low levels of melatonin, so melatonin supplements seem like a logical fix for insomnia. There is a high demand for sleep aids, especially in the U.S. The National Health Interview Survey done in 2002, and again in 2007, found 1.6 million US adults were using complementary and alternative sleep aids for insomnia. Lunar Sleep was a top choice. Use Promo Code: Sleep2014 and only pay $1.95 S&H.

Get Lunar Sleep for $1.95

More Pregnancy Articles

Zika Babies May Look Normal at Birth, Display Brain Defects Later: CDC

Zika Babies May Look Normal at Birth, Display Brain Defects Later: CDC0

TUESDAY, Nov. 22, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Babies exposed to the Zika virus in the womb can look normal at birth but later show signs of the devastating birth defect microcephaly and other brain abnormalities, researchers reported ...

Imaging Studies Shed Light on Zika's Effects

Imaging Studies Shed Light on Zika's Effects0

TUESDAY, Nov. 22, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- More details on how the Zika virus affects infants and adults will be presented to international researchers meeting in Chicago next week. Three studies scheduled for presentation at the annual meeting ...

Pregnancy Diet (Menu Plans)

Pregnancy Diet (Menu Plans)0

Superfoods or power foods are foods that have extra benefits beyond their nutritional content. Examples of power foods are: Pumpkin seeds Blackstrap molasses Almond butter Figs Sardines Oatmeal Pregnancy diet plan definition ...

Do Women Who Have Kids Later Live Longer?

Do Women Who Have Kids Later Live Longer?0

THURSDAY, Nov. 17, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- In what's believed to be the first study of its kind, research suggests that women who give birth for the first time at age 25 or older are more likely to live to 90. The researchers also found that ...

FDA Explains Pros, Cons of Permanent Birth Control

FDA Explains Pros, Cons of Permanent Birth Control0

FRIDAY, Nov. 18, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Women need to carefully consider the benefits and risks of permanent birth control devices, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says. The agency recently introduced labeling changes for one such ...

View More Pregnancy Articles


Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Our Mailing List

Subscribe to our mailing list to get the latest health news as it breaks!

Your information will not be shared with anyone!