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Full Impact Of Zika On Babies Now Surfacing

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The Zika outbreak that scared the world was first declared as a public health emergency in Brazil two years ago. Since then, thousands of babies were born to women who had been infected with the mosquito-borne virus.

Now, the children have many congenital defects such as microcephaly, or a complication at birth that gives an infant an underdeveloped head, TIME reports. Problems include seizures, motor impairments and hearing problems.

The full implications of Zika are only being seen now, as the babies born at the peak of the Zika crisis grow older, scientists say. A new report released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention followed 19 babies who were born with microcephaly, and were confirmed to have had Zika infections. The kids, now between the ages of 19 months and two years, continue to face massive developmental problems, researchers say.

Out of the 19, 11 of the kids had a possible seizure disorder, 10 had difficulty sleeping, nine had trouble eating, 15 had motor impairments that included failure to sit on their own, 13 had hearing problems and 11 had vision problems.

Dr. Georgina Peacock, director of CDC’s Division of Human Development and Disability, said,

As children born affected by Zika virus grow up, they will need specialized care from many types of healthcare providers and caregivers.

In the United States and US territories, there have been 240 documented cases of babies born with defects related to Zika. This is the first study to track babies born with microcephaly from Zika over a period of time.

The participants came from the Zika Outcomes and Development in Infants and Children (ZODIAC) trial, which the CDC runs in partnership with the Ministry of Health of Brazil.

According to researchers, studying the children will provide countries with more information and insight, in order for health providers to anticipate the needs of families who have babies born with Zika-related problems.

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