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Zika Virus Complications Include Epilepsy Among Babies

By KM Diaz, | April 18, 2017

Zika virus spreads through mosquito bites and it associated with severe neurological birth defects that can trigger microcephaly.

Zika virus spreads through mosquito bites and it associated with severe neurological birth defects that can trigger microcephaly.

Zika virus is a known threat to pregnant women that can cause defects among babies. Now, experts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn that epilepsy may also be another complication of Zika.

Zika virus spreads through mosquito bites and it associated with severe neurological birth defects that can trigger microcephaly - infants are born with underdeveloped brains and skulls. Most of the cases occurred in South America and Brazil. And now, epilepsy is another pediatric complication being linked to Zika. 

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Dr. Daniel Pastula, Dr. Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp, and Rosemarie Kobau have studied Zika at the CDC and wrote an essay on the Zika-epilepsy connection published in JAMA Neurology.

In Brazil, among the 48 babies with probable congenital Zika infection, about 50 percent reportedly had clinical seizures. Apart from these 48 babies, there are additional seven groups, in which, 13 Zika-exposed babies were diagnosed with epilepsy.

CDC authors noted that congenital Zika virus infection needs to be examined properly to know what extent that leads the brain to have abnormalities like seizures and epilepsy. Parents and healthcare professionals may be unaware of the Zika-epilepsy link, that's why it could be under-reported or misdiagnosed. Early diagnosis is important to reduce the adverse outcomes associated with developmental delay.

The research team believes that raising awareness will be the key to recognizing other cases of epilepsy linked to fetal exposure to Zika to help the babies.

CDC also stated that better diagnosis and identifying the cases of epilepsy and seizures in young children and babies at an early stage will help the families on receiving the proper support and treatment to prevent further brain defects.

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