A baby girl born to a mother infected with Zika virus was delivered prematurely with microcephaly and other Zika-associated birth defects at a hospital in New Jersey. The infant, delivered on May 31, is the first child born with Zika-related microcephaly in the United States mainland. The woman had been in Honduras, and was on holiday in the US. Doctors in Honduras suspected intracranial complications with the unborn child, but it was not until she was admitted to the high-risk unit at the New Jersey hospital that doctors confirmed the microcephaly diagnosis.
Hospital officials stated that the mother, a native of Honduras, presented to the medical center on May 27. She contracted Zika virus in Honduras and after medical experts suspected Zika-related birth difficulties, she traveled to the United States seeking better medical care. Neither the mother nor the baby acquired this infection in the United States.
The child was delivered at an estimated 35 weeks’ gestational age and has been diagnosed with microcephaly and structural abnormalities of the eye, both caused by Zika virus infection. They also stated that the child is currently being evaluated for how these conditions will affect neonatal abilities, such as sucking, swallowing and eating. Physicians state that it is currently too early for a prognosis on the child’s survivability and life expectancy.
As of May 19, the CDC has confirmed that there were 168 women in continental US who were pregnant and confirmed Zika sufferers. Almost 600 cases of Zika have been diagnosed in the US, but all sufferers have travelled to an infected country.
This week WHO updated its advice to recommend that couples who have been in Zika-hit areas wait at least eight weeks before trying to conceive, to ensure the virus has cleared their bodies. Previously, the WHO recommended a four-week minimum period. And if the male partner in a couple planning pregnancy has symptoms of the Zika virus, the period of safe abstinence should be six months.