CDC: Zika effects can appear months after birth

CDC: Zika effects can appear months after birth
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Babies born with the Zika virus may develop life-threatening brain abnormalities months after birth, according to a new study by U.S. researchers.

The study, which was published Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), raises a new cause alarm for the thousands of pregnant women infected with the virus worldwide.

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For the first time, the CDC confirms that Zika-infected infants who appear to be born healthy could go on develop severe brain damage as early as five months after birth.

Researchers studied 13 Zika-infected babies in Brazil who were born with normal brain function but showed signs of severe brain damage after birth. Eleven of the babies developed microcephaly, in which an infant’s head does not grow to a normal size.

“This report documents that microcephaly at birth is not an essential hallmark of congenital Zika syndrome,” the study’s authors wrote.

The new findings provide a fresh concern for global health officials who are fighting hundreds of thousands of cases in more than 60 countries.  

CDC officials said the findings underscore the need for "initial and continuing medical and developmental evaluations" of babies born to Zika-infected mothers. 

In the U.S. alone, about 3,500 pregnant women have tested positive for the Zika virus.  

The Zika virus has been spreading for more than two years, though a slowdown in global infections recently prompted the World Health Organization to remove Zika from its official list of global health emergencies.