According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), newborn babies infected with the Zika virus could develop microcephaly months after birth, even though no symptoms are visible at first.
As of yet, there are no clues in regard with the extent of damage the Zika virus causes during pregnancy. In recent years, the scientists’ main focus was on the babies born with unusually small heads. Oftentimes, this led to underdeveloped brains.
A study made public earlier this year, in November, provides disturbing data regarding a group of Brazilian babies infected with the Zika virus. The paper talks about the effects of the virus that although were not visible, at first, caused the babies to develop microcephaly more than half a year after their birth.
Furthermore, the report states that even if the infant does not suffer from microcephaly, the babies infected with Zika still display serious neurological damage together with a wide range of other affections, as well. Some of the brain abnormalities observed in the infected babies involved decreased brain volume and tissue, calcium deposits and irregular brain structures filled with fluid.
In some cases, these abnormalities could be detected since pregnancy with the use of ultrasounds. However, in other cases, the brain damage was not clear until a CT or MRI scan was performed after birth.
Apart from the head growth problems, the babies infected with Zika also suffered a variety of neurological damage. As a consequence, some patients have developed too much muscle tone or too little of it. In both cases, these conditions limit the range of body movements. In more severe cases, the babies suffer from spontaneous muscle contractions, seizures, vision problems, or swallowing difficulties.
Thanks to the latest findings, researchers will intensify their efforts to detect the Zika virus in pregnant women. The latest report made public by the CDC states that the problem does not lie solely with the size of the head, as it was thought until recently.
Similar findings have already been discussed in September, during a conference sponsored by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The study released last month focused on 13 different individuals from the northeastern areas of Brazil which have been hit the hardest by the Zika outbreak.