Microcephaly Symptoms & Treatment: What Happens to Zika Virus Baby Victims? 5 Things To Know

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Jan 29, 2016 04:28 AM EST

Reports suggested that the mosquito-borne Zika virus causes microcephaly among newborn babies.

Zika has continued to make headlines due to the growing number of individuals inflicted with it. Pregnant moms who caught the disease delivered their babies with some health anomalies.

Luiz Felipe was born last October and he has microcephaly, a rare neurological disorder with long-term physical and mental repercussions. The condition is associated with Zika virus, CNN reported.

"At first, I wasn't concerned because the doctor where I delivered didn't tell me there was anything wrong," said Oliveira dos Santos, Luiz Felipe's mom. "It wasn't until I turned on the television that day that I first heard of Zika."

The mom of two revealed that her baby's condition is challenging. The doctors already informed her that her son could lose his sight, his hearing or ability to walk. Worse, he could suffer brain damage.

So, what is microcephaly and how it affects the newborn babies? Here are five facts about the condition from Vox.

1. Microcephaly means "small head." This term is used to describe a condition when a baby has a smaller-than-average head circumference. Several things can cause this, from diseases to malnutrition. According to Centers for Disease and Control Prevention, this condition is rare in the United States. Out of 10,000 live births, only two to 12 babies were diagnosed with microcephaly.

2. Several conditions can trigger microcephaly from chromosomal disorders like Down syndrome to viruses like rubella or toxoplasmosis. Maternal alcoholism, drug abuse, diabetes and malnutrition may also lead to this condition. This condition has increased by twenty folds in Brazil. In 2015, 4,000 cases of microcephaly were reported in newborns to moms with Zika virus.

3. Microcephaly is a spectrum. This condition can range from mild to severe, depending on the cause. In mild cases, the baby may have few long-term problems and normal intelligence. In severe cases, the head is extremely small because the brain is destroyed by the virus and the baby will suffer from poor health outcomes.

4. No cure. There is no medication for the condition. However, depending on the severity of microcephaly, physical therapy, and speech and occupational therapy can help improve the condition.

5. Pregnant women who traveled to Zika-infected countries should talk to their doctor. For expectant moms who had been in countries with Zika, it is best to be tested for the virus since many people with the condition never experienced any symptoms. It is also recommended to take ultrasound scans to check if the fetus is developing normally. However, another challenge here is that microcephaly doesn't show up in scans until later in the pregnancy.

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