Zika virus horror stories have already started pouring out of South America and the Caribbean.
Many women who were pregnant when infected with the Zika virus began giving birth to babies with microcephaly, or smaller than usual heads. The smaller heads were an indication that brain development was stalled.
The rash of microcephaly reports prompted studies to prove a link between the Zika virus and the babies born with smaller heads.
However, in the case of one of these recent studies, there were many more birth defects that started showing up in patients with the Zika virus involved with the study.
In the study, 88 otherwise healthy pregnant women who reported symptoms related to the Zika virus between September and February were tested. Of the 88 women, 72 were actively infected with the virus.
Of those 72 infected women, 42 of them, and all of the non-infected ones, had fetal ultrasound exams. Of the 42 infected, abnormalities were found in 12. That comes out to 29 percent.
Of the non-infected women who had ultrasounds, zero had abnormalities.
Abnormalities found in the Zika virus-infected fetuses included problems with growth, like microcephaly and smaller limbs, problems with the placenta and lesions in the brain or spine.
The Zika virus study co-author Dr. Karin Nielsen-Saines, a professor of clinical pediatrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, said of the findings, “Zika definitely causes the problems. We think microcephaly is only the tip of the iceberg.”
Out of the 12 Zika virus-infected babies, two died in utero and six live births have occurred so far. Only one of the live babies has microcephaly.
However, two of the infected babies were born too small for gestational age and one of those had lesions in the eyes, which could indicate vision problems and possible blindness.
Two of the Zika virus-infected babies had normal ultrasounds and, so far, appear healthy. One infected baby was delivered by emergency C-section due to a severe lack of amniotic fluid. That baby seemed like it would have difficulties after birth, but soon stabilized and is now healthy.
Dr. Christopher M. Zahn of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said of the Zika virus study, “Unfortunately, we still have many unanswered questions.”
He added that the study does, however, provide “additional evidence suggesting an association between Zika virus and negative obstetrical outcomes, including birth defects and fetal demise.”
What do you think about this new Zika virus study and its worrisome findings?