Tens of thousands of babies face Zika risk
TENS of thousands of babies may be born with debilitating Zika-related disorders in the course of the outbreak sweeping through Latin America and the Caribbean, researchers said.
Mathematical projections suggest about 93.4 million people may catch the virus – including some 1.65 million pregnant women – before the epidemic fizzles out, a team reported in the journal Nature Microbiology on July 25.
Eighty percent of people will develop mild symptoms or never even be aware they have the virus.
But for babies in the womb Zika can be devastating – linked to a brain-damaging disorder called microcephaly that can lead to stillbirth or severely disabling birth defects.
Among women in a high-risk early term of pregnancy, anything between 1pc and 13pc have foetuses develop microcephaly or other Zikarelated complications, said the multidisciplinary research team from the United States, Britain and Sweden.
This meant “somewhere on the order of tens of thousands across the whole of Latin America and the Caribbean who could realistically end up developing microcephaly or a related condition,” said study coauthor Alex Perkins of the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, and specified this referred to “live births”.
The projection was “a worst-case scenario” he told AFP, “but a realistic one”.
It did not account for women who may be postponing conception or having abortions as a result of the outbreak. –
A child looks out through a mosquito net at the Maternity and Children’s Hospital in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on February 26.