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DPH closely watching babies born to mothers in Conn. with Zika

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HARTFORD — The Connecticut Department of Public Health is watching 30 babies either born here or currently living in the state to mothers who had tested positive for Zika virus during their pregnancies.

Of the 30 live births currently being monitored by DPH, two babies have been confirmed with Zika-related birth defects and another nine babies were borderline for birth defects, according to the DPH. Those nine will be followed closely at their pediatrician appointments for any possible changes in their measurements to confirm or rule out microcephaly or other birth defects related to Zika.

Microcephaly is a condition where a baby’s head is much smaller than expected. During pregnancy, a baby’s head grows because the baby’s brain grows. Microcephaly can occur because a baby’s brain has not developed properly during pregnancy or has stopped growing after birth, which results in a smaller head size. Microcephaly can be an isolated condition, meaning that it can occur with no other major birth defects, or it can occur in combination with other major birth defects. Babies with microcephaly can have a range of other problems, depending on how severe their microcephaly is. Microcephaly has been linked with the following problems:

  • Seizures
  • Developmental delay, such as problems with speech or other developmental milestones (like sitting, standing, and walking)
  • Intellectual disability (decreased ability to learn and function in daily life)
  • Problems with movement and balance
  • Feeding problems, such as difficulty swallowing
  • Hearing loss
  • Vision problems

These problems can range from mild to severe and are often lifelong. Because the baby’s brain is small and underdeveloped, babies with severe microcephaly can have more of these problems, or have more difficulty with them, than babies with milder microcephaly. Severe microcephaly also can be life-threatening. Because it is difficult to predict at birth what problems a baby will have from microcephaly, babies with microcephaly often need close follow-up through regular check-ups with a healthcare provider to monitor their growth and development.

As of January 18 DPH’s State Laboratory has tested 1,208 patients for Zika virus, including 873 pregnant patients. Of those, 109 patients have tested positive for Zika virus, including six pregnant women. An additional 44 patients, and 34 pregnant patients, have tested positive for Flavivirus, a related class of viruses that include Zika, dengue, yellow fever, and Japanese encephalitis, and West Nile virus.

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