Mom With Zika Gives Birth to Baby With Birth Defects at NJ Hospital: Officials

What to Know

  • The mother had been visiting relatives in the area when she went to the hospital Friday
  • The woman is 31 and from Honduras, a nation ravaged by the Zika virus
  • The baby was delivered by Cesarean section Tuesday after an ultrasound confirmed the birth defects

A Honduran woman infected with Zika gave birth in New Jersey to a baby girl with birth defects caused by the virus, her doctor said Wednesday.

The infant is the second born in the United States with birth defects from the mosquito-borne virus. The first was born in Hawaii to a woman who had lived in Brazil, where the Zika epidemic began in the Americas.

The doctor said the 31-year-old mother was diagnosed with Zika in her native Central American country, where the virus has spread. She traveled to New Jersey, where she has family, to seek further treatment, he said. Hospital officials stressed that neither the mother nor the baby poses an infectious risk to others.

Al-Khan said the mother had a normal ultrasound early in her pregnancy, and that another one last week showed birth defects, including microcephaly, in which the baby's head is smaller than expected because the brain hasn't developed properly. He said there was a "medical need" for delivering the baby at about 35 weeks of gestation, more than a month shy of full term.

"It was very sad for us to see a baby born with such a condition," he said.

Al-Khan said the prognosis for babies born with microcephaly, which also can signal underlying brain damage, is "generally very poor."

The mother is "hanging in there" said Al-Khan. "But of course what human being isn't going to be devastated by this news?"

The Zika virus causes only a mild and brief illness, at worst, in most people. In April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there was enough evidence to declare that Zika causes microcephaly and other brain defects.

Ten countries have reported cases of microcephaly linked to Zika, which is spread primarily through mosquito bites and can also be transmitted through sex. The baby born in Hawaii also had microcephaly.

The CDC and the World Health Organization have recommended that pregnant women avoid traveling to Zika-affected countries.

So far, all the nearly 600 cases of Zika infection reported in the United States have been connected to travel to outbreak areas — none were locally transmitted. Of that tally, 168 are pregnant women. The CDC has not released details about those pregnancies or any outcome.

Scientists are still trying to determine how risky a Zika infection is for pregnant women. In a study last week, CDC researchers estimated that the risk of microcephaly is in the range of 1 percent to 14 percent.

Newborns with microcephaly often act just like other newborns, perhaps a bit fussier, NBC News reported. But the disabilities will appear as the growing children miss important milestones. They'll have learning deficiencies, vision problems and hearing problems, and many will also have physical disabilities.

There is no cure.

The World Health Organization released new guidelines Tuesday advising people who recently traveled to a Zika-infected country to wait eight weeks before trying to conceive, even if neither partner has symptoms of the virus, which can be sexually transmitted. It also urges protected sex in general.  

RELATED: What to Know About the Zika Virus

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