Microcephaly birth defect rate surged after Zika outbreak in Brazil

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Brazilian health ministry reported a rise in the number of newborn babies with uncommonly small heads – microcephaly, and suspect that the surge is linked to an outbreak of the mosquito-borne Zika virus. The number of babies born with suspected microcephaly since October has now reached 3893.

Brazilian authorities have reported 3,893 new suspected cases of microcephaly in new-borns. Some 90% of these cases have been recorded in Brazil’s northeastern states, where the country’s Zika outbreak — the largest on record — is most pervasive.

Newborns with microcephaly have notably smaller heads and several associated health issues — typically limited brain function and a diminished life expectancy.

Zika is generally mild and only causes symptoms in one in five people. It is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which also spreads dengue and chikungunya.

Forty-nine babies with suspected microcephaly have died, Brazil’s health ministry says. In five of these cases an infection with Zika virus was found.

The Fiocruz research institute in Brazil says it has detected the virus in the placenta of a woman who miscarried in the first trimester of pregnancy – a step closer to establishing a clear link between the virus and the deformities affecting babies and foetuses.

Brazil is experiencing the largest known outbreak of Zika.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert last Friday advising pregnant women to consider postponing travel to Brazil and other Latin American and Caribbean countries where outbreaks of Zika have been registered.

The travel alert applies to Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela and Puerto Rico.

4 thoughts on “Microcephaly birth defect rate surged after Zika outbreak in Brazil”

    • Dear Sylvia, presently, this is difficult to say that folic acid or folates would reduce the risk of microcephaly in pregnant woman affected by zika virus infection. As there is no research study to justify the importance of folic acid in pregnant woman affected by zika in reducing microcephaly risk.

      We need to understand the benefits of folic acid during pregnancy in general. Folic acid, which is also called folate, is a B vitamin. Taking a prenatal folic acid vitamin with the recommended 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid before and during pregnancy can help prevent birth defects of your baby’s brain and spinal cord, and this is research proven.

      So, I would recommend you to continue recommended folic acid intake during pregnancy to reduce the risks of birth defects related to brain and spinal cord of the baby.

      I believe we need to conduct a research study to justify the importance of folic acid in pregnant woman affected by zika in reducing microcephaly risk.

      Best regards,
      Dr. Anil Singhal.

  1. I think that focus on the unborn child and treating the mother is important. It makes sense that folic acid should be explored as a preventative measure against this birth defect. It seems much more effective to have all pregnant women take higher doses of folic acid than to expect that people globally will be cautious with their sexually lifestyle or be able to avoid Mosquitos. Please do further reasearch on folic acid and the zika virus.

  2. Dear Dr. Singhal,
    Has there been any report of a baby suffering only from microcephaly and no other symptoms related to Zika side effect? for example the pt has a small head circumference(not a true microcephaly) but with good retinal findings and no other developmental delays ? Can this be a mild form of Zika ?
    Thank you


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