The news media have been full of the threat to unborn children from an infection with the Zika virus. Yet, there exists a common virus that presents a far more serious threat to a fetus. That virus is called cytomegalovirus, or CMV. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), half of all Americans will have contracted this illness by age 40. There is no cure and the illness can reactivate at any time.
Tag: birth defects
About this time in 2015, Brazilian public health authorities began to receive reports of an unusual number of cases of a birth defect called microcephaly in newborns. It appears that the defect, with other serious defects, is associated with some pregnant mothers contracting a Zika viral illness. This illness was passed to their fetus and seems to have caused, or at least contributed to the development, of these neurological defects.
The existing data suggests that the incidence of microcephaly in the Gulf Coast states is elevated above the national incidence. Any future correlation between the arrival of Zika and cases of microcephaly in that region should take into account the existing high levels.