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According to the findings of a small study, it was found out that foetuses of pregnant women infected with the mosquito-borne Zika virus had a variety of severe birth abnormalities pointing to stronger association between the Zika virus and microcephaly.
The foetus abnormalities that the study found out included fetal growth restriction, calcification of the brain, fetal death, central nervous system damage, potential blindness and placental insufficiency with low to no amniotic fluid.
The study was conducted on pregnant women in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Commenting on the findings, the lead author of the study, Dr. Karin Nielsen said, “These were women infected in the first and second trimester of pregnancy. We also saw problems in the last trimester, which was surprising to us,” Reuters reported.
Professor of clinical pediatrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA , Nielson further said, “We have found a strong link between Zika and adverse pregnancy outcomes, which haven’t been documented before. Even if the fetus isn’t affected, the virus appears to damage the placenta, which can lead to fetal death.”
There have been rising concerns globally about the association of Zika virus and severe birth defects like microcephaly. Microcephaly is a condition where babies are born with unusually small heads and has affected thousands of babies in Brazil. However, no strong associations between Zika and microcephaly has been found yet.
Brazil, till now, has confirmed more than 640 cases of microcephaly in the country and considered of most of these cases to be linked with the Zika virus. The country is also investigating 4,200 other suspected cases of the particular birth defects which could have links with the virus.
Referring to the findings of the study as Zika Virus Congenital Syndrome, Nielson said that microcephaly could also be one of the many birth abnormalities which have been found till now in link with the mosquito-borne virus.
The findings of the study were published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Friday.