The news of a mother infected with the Zika virus giving birth in New Jersey to a baby with microcephaly has women across the country concerned more than ever about the virus and the effect it has on newborns. The 31-year-old woman from Honduras is the first mother to give birth to a child with Zika-related microcephaly in the continental United States. A woman in Hawaii also gave birth to a baby with microcephaly back in January.
The new mother contracted Zika outside the U.S. She came to New Jersey (where she has relatives) to receive better medical care once she learned her unborn child may have Zika-related problems. In her second trimester, the woman began experiencing symptoms of the virus including fever and rashes. A visit to an OBGYN found the baby may have some growth restrictions. The baby girl was born at Hackensack University Medical Center with microcephaly, as well calcified and dilated areas of the brain where fluid should be passing through.
Microcephaly is a condition where a baby’s head is significantly smaller than it should be, sometimes because the child’s brain has not developed properly. It can lead to other medical problems such as seizures, physical and intellectual delays, and difficulties with movement and balance. When a pregnant woman is infected with the Zika virus it can affect the development of an otherwise healthy baby. The Centers for Disease Control is continuing to monitor and study the effects of the Zika on babies in utero. They have set up a national registry to help understand the various outcomes of the virus in pregnant women.
There have been no cases to date of a person being infected with the Zika virus in the United States by a mosquito, and many areas of the country are taking steps to keep it that way. A segment on NBC Nightly News reported close to one-third of the Zika cases in the U.S. are in the state of Florida. With mosquito season running concurrently with the summer tourist surge, many theme parks are taking precautions to eradicate any mosquitos in the area. The fear is a mosquito not infected with the virus may bite someone who is, become infected, and then transmit the virus to others through bites. There is also concern for athletes and spectators heading to the Olympics this August in Brazil, the country where Zika has been the most prevalent in the Western Hemisphere.
Since the Zika virus can be transmitted not only from a woman to an unborn baby but also from a man to a woman during sexual intercourse, women or couples planning to get pregnant should wait eight weeks after traveling to hard-hit Zika areas according to recommendations from the World Health Organization. The areas in question can be found on the CDC’s website. In addition, for women planning to have children later on, studies at this time show once the virus is out of the blood stream it would not affect a future pregnancy.
While microcephaly in Zika-related cases is caused by a virus, there are tragically other injuries that occur during childbirth which can cause a baby brain damage, sometimes as a result of medical malpractice. If your child has suffered an injury due to the negligence of doctors, nurses or other medical personnel during delivery, please contact the skilled and experienced attorneys at Finz & Finz, P.C., to ensure your child is taken care of for the injuries suffered due to the carelessness of others.