What 1-Year-Old Zika Babies Are Teaching Us About This Devastating Virus

zika virus

With the change in the weather, mosquitoes may be out of sight, but they're never far from the minds of parents whose babies have been born with Zika virus. As many infected infants in Brazil, where the outbreak quickly spread, turn 1, concerns about the long-term Zika-related health implications continue to appear.

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Initially, many Zika-infected babies were diagnosed with microcephaly, meaning their heads were smaller in size than their same-age peers. But, at first, other far-reaching effects of the condition weren't completely known.

Now, researchers and doctors are treating the babies for additional issues as those nearing this first milestone birthday are experiencing swallowing difficulties and epileptic seizures, as well as vision and hearing problems.

"We are seeing a lot of seizures. And now they are having many problems eating, so a lot of these children start using feeding tubes," Dr. Vanessa Van der Linden, a pediatric neurologist in Recife who was among the first physicians to connect Zika to microcephaly, told Fox News.

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It's absolutely heartbreaking and yet it's important for parents in the US to consider what lies ahead for the babies born here who've been infected. As of August, at least 15 infants in this country were born with the virus, according to the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. 

Additionally concerning is that doctors in Brazil found that the heads of some infants who were born with the virus but without microcephaly stopped growing months after birth. Others had problems moving their extremities.

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Sadly, these issues prove it could be a long road ahead for these innocent children and their families. 

If there's any positive news to be found, it's that some of the babies are progressing despite the illness.

A study, funded by the US National Institutes of Health, is tracking three groups of babies: ones born with microcephaly, others born with average-sized heads who were found to have brain damage or other physical issues, and babies who have not exhibited symptoms of the virus or developmental delays. So hopefully, we'll have additional information about how children infected with Zika will fare as they grow.

Hopefully, as more becomes known about the virus, researchers and physicians will help these children reach their fullest potential and assist their families in learning exactly how to help them. 

 

Image via airdone/Shutterstock

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