Head size not always accurate indicator of Zika-related brain defects, study finds

Maternal Zika infection may cause damage to fetal brains even when ultrasound imaging indicates normal head size, according to a study published in the journal Nature Medicine.

For the study, researchers examined changes in the brains of five fetal macaque monkeys whose mothers contracted Zika during pregnancy. Researchers only detected obvious fetal abnormalities in one primate. The remaining fetuses' brains remained too large to meet CDC's criteria for Zika-associated microcephaly. However, MRIs revealed four of the five brains weren't developing normally. Areas of the brain that displayed developmental delays included regions where new brain cells are developed.

Additionally, researchers found neural stem cells in the hippocampus were particularly vulnerable to Zika. Because these cells are present throughout early childhood and adolescence, researchers suggested Zika virus infections in children and young adults could adversely affect brain health.

"Current criteria using head size to diagnose Zika-related brain injury fail to capture more subtle brain damage that can lead to significant learning problems and mental health disorders later in life," said Kristina Adams Waldorf, MD, lead study author and a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. "We are diagnosing only the tip of the iceberg."

More articles on infection control: 
86 infected with norovirus at 2018 Olympic Winter Games 
Northwell rolls out one-of-a-kind flu tracker for Long Island, NYC 
Salmonella, norovirus and measles: 9 recent and ongoing outbreaks

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars