New health problem for infants linked to Zika
A recent report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that 6 to 7 percent of babies confirmed to have Zika and born with microcephaly also suffer from hearing loss. Based on this new data, the CDC now recommends that all babies born to a mother known to have Zika have their hearing tested after birth.
“We continue to learn more about this virus with every passing week, and unfortunately, very little of it is good news,” says Dr. Olufemi Aboyeji, an infectious disease specialist on staff at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, Ill. “If a pregnant woman or her sexual partners live in or have traveled to an area where the Zika virus is active, it would be wise to conduct careful follow-up with the baby’s pediatrician after the birth, regardless of whether the baby is showing symptoms.”
The CDC studied 70 infants in Brazil that had been diagnosed with Zika and born with microcephaly. Several of the babies suffered from hearing loss that was caused by damage to the inner ear or nerve pathways that connect the ear and brain. The researchers found no other reasonable cause for the damage, leading them to believe it is connected to the virus.
Zika has been linked to a number of serious birth defects and impaired fetal growth, as well as a potentially severe eye condition in adults. It continues to spread in areas across the world, including large parts of North and South America, the Pacific Islands and corners of Africa and Asia.
“Pregnant women should continue postponing travel to regions where the Zika virus is active, if at all possible,” says Dr. Aboyeji. “If they live in or must travel to these places, the virus is largely transmitted via mosquito bites or sexual transmission, so there are some preventive measures one can take – like using effective bug repellant and practicing safe sex.”
Dr. Aboyeji recommends consulting with your physician if you have any concerns or begin to show any symptoms of the virus.
“Given how much we are still learning about this virus, it is important to have the most up-to-date information available,” he says.
Visit www.cdc.gov/zika to learn more.
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