State health officials monitoring babies born to Zika mothers - WFSB 3 Connecticut

State health officials monitoring babies born to Zika mothers

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(AP photo) (AP photo)
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

Connecticut's health department said it is monitoring dozens of babies either born or currently living in the state to mothers who tested positive for the Zika virus for Flavivirus.

The state Department of Public Health, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has been keeping an eye on 30 cases.

Of the 30 cases being watched by the DPH, it said two have Zika-related birth defects. Another nine cases were said to have borderline defects.

As per CDC guidelines, at birth, two, six and 12 months after birth, children are monitored for signs of Zika-related birth defects.

The DPH said it is also watching nine pregnant women with confirmed laboratory evidence of Zika.

“It is critical that we work with pediatricians to monitor these babies for signs of microcephaly or other Zika-related birth defects throughout the first year of life because we have seen that these defects are not necessarily readily apparent at birth,” said Dr. Raul Pino, DPH Commissioner.  “Any baby who has signs of Zika-related birth defects will receive further monitoring, and we will be assisting the families and pediatricians with ensuring that both baby and family receive the services and supports that they will need to address the baby’s issues.”

Microcephaly is a condition where the baby's head is much smaller than expected, according to the DPH. The condition can occur when the baby's brain is not developing properly or has stopped growing after birth.

Microcephaly has been linked to 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

The problems can range from mild to severe and are often lifelong.

As of last week, the DPH said it tested 1,208 patients, including 873 pregnant patients, for Zika. Of those, 109 patients, six of whom were pregnant, tested positive for the virus.

An additional four patents and 34 pregnant patients tested positive for Flavivirus. Flavivirus is a class of virus that includes Zika, dengue, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis and the West Nile Virus, the DPH said.

“As we head into the Caribbean travel season, it is imperative that pregnant women, women who plan to become pregnant and their partners carefully consider any plans to travel to areas where mosquitoes are still carrying Zika, and if travel is necessary that they take precautions to protect against mosquito bites,” Pino said. “We are actively working with the CDC and other states to quantify the risk of birth defects in order to help identify the types of birth defects that are more common in infants who were exposed to Zika virus and the subpopulations that are most affected by Zika-related outcomes.”

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