As the first babies that were born with brain damage due to the Zika epidemic of 2015 turn 2 years old, scientists are finding out the heartbreaking effects of the virus.
Scientists and the government have not stopped trying to come up with ways to fight against the Zika virus, including releasing millions of mosquitoes that are infected by the Wolbachia bacteria and raising awareness on mosquito control. Unfortunately for the babies that are already born, a challenging life awaits them as they grow older.
Zika Virus Effects On Babies Turning 2 Years Old
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a study that saw researchers follow 19 babies in Brazil who were born with microcephaly, which is a birth complication that is characterized by a baby's underdeveloped head and Zika virus infections. Four of the 19 babies were found to have been misclassified as Zika babies, but the 15 other babies were indeed affected by the virus.
The babies, now between 19 months and 2 years old, are facing significant developmental difficulties. Out of the 15 babies, 11 have possible seizure disorders, 10 have trouble getting sleep, nine have trouble eating, 15 have motor impairments that prevented them from doing things such as sitting on their own and chewing, 13 have hearing difficulties, and 11 have vision issues.
The babies also had the cognitive and physical development similar to babies who are six months old or younger.
There were almost 3,000 Zika babies that were born in Brazil with microcephaly, and it is unclear how many of them will face the same difficulties as the babies that were the subject of the CDC's study. However, doctors believe that there will be at least hundreds of babies that will have the same developmental difficulties.
"It's heartbreaking," said CDC director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald. "We would expect that these children are going to require enormous amounts of work and require enormous amounts of care."
Zika Virus Problem Not Yet Over
The number of babies born with Zika complications in Brazil has vastly decreased, as people are gaining immunity from the virus and pregnant women are taking more precautions to prevent themselves from being infected.
However, 3 percent of a sample of 1,000 pregnant women still tested positive for a Zika virus infection, claimed Dr. Ernesto Marques. He is an expert on infectious diseases from the University of Pittsburgh and the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Recife.
As such, expectant mothers are urged to take extra precautions to protect themselves from Zika infection, not just in Brazil but anywhere in the world where the virus has been detected.