Woman in New Jersey With Zika Virus Gives Birth to Baby With Birth Defects, Including Microcephaly
A woman in New Jersey with the Zika virus gave birth on May 31 to a baby girl with microcephaly, one of the doctors said.
The birth defects appear to be caused by Zika.
The woman, whose identity has not been released but was said to be a 31-year-old from Honduras, delivered the baby through a cesarean section at Hackensack University Medical Center, said Dr. Abdulla Al-Kahn, the hospital’s director of maternal-fetal medicine and surgery.
The woman was diagnosed with the virus in Honduras after labs results were sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmation of the illness. She then came to New Jersey, where she has family, to seek further treatment, said Al-Kahn.
The mother had normal ultrasounds early in her pregnancy, but another ultrasound last week showed birth defects, including microcephaly.
Microcephaly is a condition where a baby’s head is much smaller than usual because the brain doesn’t develop properly.
Al-Kahn said the baby looks “completely Zika affected,” and while further tests are required to confirm the virus, he’s “90 to 95 percent” sure it’s Zika.
“It was very sad for us to see a baby born with such a condition,” he told The Associated Press.
Al-Kahn said the prognosis for infants born with microcephaly, which also can signal underlying brain damage, is “generally very poor.”
The mother is “hanging in there” said Al-Kahn. “But of course what human being isn’t going to be devastated by this news?”
In January, a baby in Hawaii was the first to be born with microcephaly caused by the Zika virus, according to the CDC.
There have been more than 500 Zika cases in the United States. Those who contracted Zika were infected in outbreak areas in South America, Central America, or the Caribbean, or people who had sex with travelers who carried the virus.
Although mosquitoes aren’t yet spreading Zika in the United States, experts predict small outbreaks are possible during the mosquito season.
There are more than 1,400 reported cases in 10 countries so far reporting cases of microcephaly linked to Zika, most of them in Brazil.
The CDC and World Health Organization are recommending that pregnant women avoid traveling to Zika-affected countries. If pregnant women contract the virus, there is no known treatment to prevent the transmission of the virus to unborn babies.
While Al-Kahn described the New Jersey case as “absolutely devastating,” he said he hopes it will serve as an “awakening call” for the United States to take strong measures to prevent Zika.
“It’s time for us to do something,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.