FEB 13, 2016 01:02 PM PST

The Link Between Zika and Microcephaly

WRITTEN BY: Julianne Chiaet
3 5 1028

The link between the Zika virus and microcephaly could be confirmed "within weeks," according to the World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday, February 12, 2016.

Microcephaly is a rare birth defect where a baby's head is significantly smaller than the heads of other infants because their brains did not fully develop. Since the Zika virus arrived in Brazil in late 2014, microcephaly cases have increased 20-fold. On February 2, 2016, Brazil's health ministry released reports saying there were 4,074 suspected and confirmed cases of microcephaly. On Friday, Brazil's health ministry reported the number was up to 4,314.

Brazilian researchers have examined infants with microcephaly and have found, in some cases, traces of the Zika virus in the amniotic fluid and brain issue. Women living in areas affected by Zika have been advised to hold off on getting pregnant. Still, the exact link is yet to be found.

Infants with microcephaly have unusually small heads. In the large majority of cases, they are likely to experience a range of problems such as developmental delays and vision and hearing problems. The affected infant's brain may not have properly developed and their brains sometimes stop growing after their first years of life.

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About the Author
  • Julianne (@JuliChiaet) covers health and medicine for LabRoots. Her work has been published in The Daily Beast, Scientific American, and MailOnline. While primarily a science journalist, she has also covered culture and Japanese organized crime. She is the New York Board Representative for the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA). • To read more of her writing, or to send her a message, go to Jchiaet.com
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