Girl With Zika-Linked Birth Defect Born in NJ

Mother became infected in Honduras
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 1, 2016 5:14 AM CDT
Girl With Zika-Linked Birth Defect Born in NJ
A baby born with microcephaly undergoes physical therapy at a therapy treatment center in Joao Pessoa, Brazil, earlier this year.   (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

It's believed to be a first in the continental US, and it was probably inevitable. A baby girl with severe microcephaly was born at a hospital in Hackensack, NJ, on Tuesday to a mother infected with the Zika virus, ABC News reports. The CDC confirmed in April that the mosquito-born virus causes the condition. Dr. Manny Alvarez, chairman of the obstetrics department at Hackensack University Medical Center, tells the New York Times that the 31-year-old mother was visiting the US from Honduras, where she contracted the virus. He says that after she tested positive for Zika and an ultrasound found that the baby was underweight, doctors opted to deliver the girl by cesarean section at 35 weeks to prevent the virus from doing any more damage.

The mother "is receiving exceptional care during this difficult time and we would appreciate everyone respecting the mother's privacy," a hospital spokeswoman said in a statement to KTLA. Babies born with microcephaly have exceptionally small heads and often have brain damage. They usually behave much like other newborns, NBC New York notes, but learning problems and physical disabilities appear later on. In January, a baby with the condition was born to a mother in Hawaii who caught Zika while living in Brazil. (The CDC recently determined that the risk of having a baby with microcephaly is up to 14% for mothers infected with Zika during the first trimester.)

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