A Second Baby Was Born With Zika-Related Birth Defects In The U.S.
On Tuesday, a baby girl was born with microcephaly in a New Jersey hospital — the second known case of a U.S.-born baby having Zika-related birth defects. The 31-year-old mother, who did not want to be identified, was visiting relatives in New Jersey from Honduras because she knew her baby might have problems related to Zika and wanted access to better health care, CNN reports. Her doctors believe she contracted the virus during her second trimester, experiencing the common symptoms of fever and rash. “When she developed the symptoms, she was seen by an OBGYN who suspected the baby was growth restricted,” Dr. Abdulla Al-Khan, director of maternal and fetal medicine at Hackensack University Medical Center, told CNN’s Debra Goldschmidt.
Tests were done to rule out other possible causes of the birth defects, but doctors concluded that the baby’s microcephaly was due to the Zika virus. Microcephaly, a birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller than normal, was linked to Zika after a spike in the condition in Brazil amidst the Zika outbreak. The baby was delivered at 36 weeks after the mother was admitted to the high-risk unit and was also born with intestinal and visual problems. USA Today reports that the baby hadn’t been developing properly for the past month.
The first reported case in the U.S. was a child with Zika-related microcephaly born in Hawaii in January. The mother was believed to have contracted the virus while living in Brazil in 2015, though it’s unclear whether or not she was a U.S. citizen.
Microcephaly has been linked to seizures, developmental delays, and problems with movement and balance. It’s a pretty rare birth defect in the U.S., as less than 12 in every 10,000 babies are born with the condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). With the influx of cases related to Zika, health officials are urging women in the Zika-infested region of Latin America and the Caribbean to avoid getting pregnant and recommending that people traveling to the area not have sex or diligently use condoms for at least eight weeks afterwards (even if they don’t show any symptoms).
Although two babies have now been born with Zika-related birth defects in the U.S. and nearly 600 people in the states have contracted the virus while traveling, there are no cases of Americans getting infected from a U.S. mosquito. Babies born with Zika-related birth defects can’t pass it on to anyone else and it’s believed women with Zika can only infect their fetus when pregnant.