Expert: Zika-related birth defect could cause a ‘wide range of i - KXXV Central Texas News Now

Expert: Zika-related birth defect could cause a ‘wide range of impact’

(Source: KXXV) (Source: KXXV)

The chance that a woman infected with Zika may give birth to a baby that has a birth defect has many people on high alert. 

According to the Center for Disease Control, there are now 99 people in Texas who caught the Zika virus, and 43 of those people are pregnant.  

Dr. Andrew McDonald is a pediatrician at Baylor Scott and White Hillcrest, and he said there is a link between Zika and Microcephaly – a birth defect that causes a baby to be born with an undeveloped brain, and small head.

"What everybody's worried about with the Zika virus is we’re still learning about what goes on in the brain, in the case when the mom’s pregnant with the Zika virus," McDonald said. "We don’t know what to tell them the odds are of the baby being affected yet. It’s just too early," the doctor added. 

McDonald said the disease usually causes issues like seizures, hearing or vision loss, problems learning. But McDonald said there could be different problems with Zika-related Microcephaly.

"What went wrong that causes Microcephaly could be different from one case to another,"McDonald said. "There are a lot of different results that we might see, and still we’re learning."

Some of the problems McDonald said could be caused by Zika-related Microcephaly are:

  • "We know that there might be problems with deafness or blindness"
  • "They might have seizures" 
  • "They may require different schooling"
  • "They may require to be fed in a different way if they have difficulty with swallowing"
  • "If they can’t see or hear then it’s going to be hard to interact with the baby"
  • "It’s also possible that they would need to work with physical therapy or occupational therapy" 
  • "They may find that they have to go to a specialist"

But the doctor said there is no way to tell if babies born with Microcephaly because of Zika will or will not have these problems. McDonald said that's because the disease is too new. 

"Until we follow the babies over time, we won’t know how many have trouble with learning, how many have trouble with vision or hearing, how many have seizures," he said. 

McDonald did say that the babies will more than likely need extra help, no matter which issues Microcephaly causes. "It’s easy to imagine that with them needing therapy a lot, that they would have a lot of appointments with specialist. It really would take up a lot of resources and a lot of time of the parent." 

The pediatrician said we should know more about exactly how Zika-related Microcephaly affects babies as doctors study the babies through the years. 

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