‘Zika-linked birth defects more severe than thought’

December 18, 2016 10:25 pm | Updated 10:25 pm IST - Los Angeles:

 Microcephaly results in an abnormally small head in newborns and is associated with various disorders.Tama/Getty Images)

Microcephaly results in an abnormally small head in newborns and is associated with various disorders.Tama/Getty Images)

Zika-linked abnormalities that occur in human foetuses are more extensive and severe than previously thought, according to scientists who found that microcephaly is not the most common congenital defect caused by the infection.

The study suggests that damage during foetal development from the mosquito-borne virus can occur throughout pregnancy and that other birth defects are more common than microcephaly, when babies are born with very small heads.

These defects may only be detected weeks or months after the baby is born, said Karin Nielsen, a professor at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). “This means that microcephaly is not the most common congenital defect from the Zika virus,” Ms. Nielsen said. This is the largest study till date of Zika-affected pregnancies. The findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine . — PTI

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