Baby Born In New Jersey With Zika Virus-Related Microcephaly

A mother with the Zika virus and in the late stages of her pregnancy traveled from Honduras to a hospital in New Jersey in hopes of receiving better medical care.

The woman gave birth on Tuesday by cesarean section, and both the baby girl and the mother are stable. Dr. Abdulla Al-Kahan, director of maternal and fetal medicine at Hackensack University Medical Center, said, “The mother is stable, obviously sad, which is the normal emotional reaction given the situation.”

As reported by the New York Times, the mother, who does not want to be identified, knew her baby may have Zika-related problems, as she was infected with the virus during the second trimester of her pregnancy. At the time, she experienced a fever and a rash, which are both symptoms of the mosquito-borne disease, known to cause the devastating birth defect microcephaly and other neurological disorders.

Dr. Al-Kahan said when the mother developed the symptoms, she was seen by an OBGYN, who suspected the baby was “growth-restricted.” Doctors in Honduras then coordinated with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to test the mother for the Zika virus.

Reportedly the samples were sent to the CDC and results, confirming the diagnosis of the Zika virus, came back on Tuesday. However, Dr. Al-Kahan stressed that this was not a factor in the mother having a C-section.

The doctor added that the mother was close to full term in her pregnancy and said there were several reasons why the baby needed to be delivered on Tuesday, including low amniotic fluid.

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Doctors first examined the mother at the medical center Friday and Dr. Al-Kahan said ultrasound screening revealed the baby had “significant microcephaly,” (an unusually small head, often accompanied by brain damage) including calcification and dilated ventricles of the brain.

Reportedly tests were run to rule out other causes of the baby’s abnormalities, but Dr. Al-Kahan said, “When I saw her today, I was pretty much convinced this was a Zika-affected baby.”

According to the doctor, such babies have “tremendous neurological problems,” and most don’t do well. Dr. Al-Kahan said this is believed to be the third case of a baby born in the U.S. with Zika-related microcephaly, but the first in the northeast. He said one baby had been born in the south, but he didn’t have details on the case.

Dr. Manny Alvarez, chairman of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science at Hackensack University Medical Center, said, “It tells you that Zika is real.”

“There is still a lot of work to be done insofar as controlling this virus.”

Reportedly back in January, health officials confirmed a baby with severe microcephaly had been born in Hawaii to a mother who had become infected with the Zika virus while living in Brazil. During May, Puerto Rico health officials also confirmed their first case of a fetus with severe microcephaly linked to local transmission of the Zika virus.

As reported by CNN, there are 300 pregnant women in the U.S. and its territories with the virus and these women are being followed as part of a national registry. While information on the outcome and various pregnancy stages of these women has not been released, in February the CDC did release a report detailing the first nine pregnancies of Zika-infected women in the U.S.

[Photo via Shutterstock]