Zika-caused birth de­fect may be­come clear only af­ter birth

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - NATION + WORLD -

Re­searchers say a se­vere birth de­fect caused by Zika in­fec­tion may not be ap­par­ent at birth but de­velop months af­ter­ward, fur­ther con­fir­ma­tion that the virus can cause un­seen dam­age to de­vel­op­ing ba­bies.

The find­ings come from a study of 13 Brazil­ian ba­bies whose heads all ap­peared nor­mal at birth but then grew much more slowly than nor­mal.

Most peo­ple in­fected with Zika never de­velop symp­toms, but in­fec­tion dur­ing pregnancy can cause dev­as­tat­ing birth de­fects, in­clud­ing mi­cro­cephaly, in which a baby’s skull is much smaller than ex­pected be­cause the brain hasn’t de­vel­oped prop­erly.

Mi­cro­cephaly is di­ag­nosed based on a mea­sure­ment of the baby’s head cir­cum­fer­ence. It can be done dur­ing pregnancy us­ing ul­tra­sound, or af­ter the baby is born. Doc­tors then com­pare the mea­sure­ment to stan­dard sizes of other kids, based on gen­der and age.

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