A report released on [August 23] shows in graphic detail the kind of damage Zika infections can do to the developing brain – damage that goes well beyond the devastating birth defect known as microcephaly, in which the baby’s head is smaller than normal.
…[In the latest research, n]early all babies in each [test] group had ventriculomegaly, a condition in which the ventricles, or fluid-filled spaces in the brain, are enlarged.
While most of the fetuses had at least one exam showing abnormally small head circumference, suggesting they had microcephaly, three of the fetuses with ventriculomegaly had normal head circumference, but severe ventriculomegaly.
In many cases, the babies’ skulls seemed to have collapsed on themselves, with overlapping tissues and abnormal skin folds suggestive of a brain that had stopped growing.
As with other reports, the paper suggests that Zika does the most harm in the first trimester of pregnancy. The researchers plan to keep following the cases to see what impact prenatal Zika infections have on future brain development.
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