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Zika virus may cause other birth defects, stillbirth: study

Zika virus may cause other birth defects, stillbirth: study - Featured Image

A case study of a Brazilian woman and her baby has pointed to the possibility that the Zika virus may cause birth defects other than microcephaly.

PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases published the case study about a 20-year-old woman whose stillborn baby had signs of severe tissue swelling as well as central nervous system defects that caused the central hemispheres of the brain to be absent.

Albert Ko, M.D. of the Yale School of Public Health and Dr. Antônio Raimundo de Almeida at the Hospital Geral Roberto Santos in Salvador, Brazil led the research, saying it provides evidence that Zika infection may also be linked to hydrops fetalis, hydranencephaly and fetal demise.

Related: Qld to ramp up Zika testing after 8th case

The woman experienced a normal first trimester, however doctors started seeing abnormalities during the 18th week of pregnancy when the foetus’ weight was well below what it should have been.

In the 30th week, the foetus showed a range of birth defects including “severe microcephaly, hydranencephaly, intracranial calcifications and destructive lesions of posterior fossa, in addition to hydrothorax, ascites and subcutaneous edema”. Labour was induced at 32 weeks due to foetal demise.

Testing confirmed the presence of Zika virus in the foetus however the woman didn’t report any of the symptoms commonly associated with Zika prior to or during her pregnancy.

The researchers admit that it’s not possible to understand the overall risk for women exposed to the virus during pregnancy from just one single case.

“Given the recent spread of the virus, systematic investigation of spontaneous abortions and stillbirths may be warranted to evaluate the risk that ZIKV infection imparts on these outcomes,” they wrote.

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