Babies whose mothers were infected with Zika are highly likely to experience brain damage, even when microcephaly is not present. According to three new studies published Tuesday, the virus may continue replicating in infant’s brains well past birth, causing more damage over time. Even if microcephaly isn’t present at birth, it can still emerge as a baby ages. In addition to smaller-than-average brain and skull development, babies who were exposed to Zika experienced dead spots and empty spaces in the brain, as well as congenital deafness and cataracts. Some of the babies in one study experienced seizures. Ernesto T. A. Marques Jr., an infectious-diseases specialist, said still others had to be fed through tubes because they could not swallow and their intestines had trouble moving food along. The studies showed conflicting likelihoods of transmitting infection—and defects—onto babies based on how sick their mother was and at what point during pregnancy she became infected. “This shows once again that microcephaly is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Albert I. Ko, an epidemiologist at Yale University.
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