ONLY ON AP Brazil babies born with Zika: One year later

(11 Oct 2016) Two weeks shy of his first birthday, doctors began feeding Jose Wesley Campos through a nose tube because swallowing problems had left him dangerously underweight.
Learning how to feed is the baby’s latest struggle as medical problems mount for him and many other infants born with small heads and health problems to mothers infected with the Zika virus in Brazil.
The problems are so particular that doctors are now calling the condition congenital Zika syndrome.
Jose’s mother, Solange Ferreira, broke into tears as she cradled her son on his birthday.
A year after a spike in the number of newborns with the defect known as microcephaly – one of the many symptoms of congenital Zika syndrome – doctors and researchers have seen many of the babies develop swallowing difficulties, epileptic seizures and vision and hearing trouble.
While more studies are needed, the condition appears to be causing more severe problems in these infants than in patients born with small heads from other infections known to cause microcephaly, such as German measles and herpes.
Zika, mainly transmitted by mosquitoes, was not known to cause birth defects until a large outbreak swept through Brazil’s northeast and set off alarms worldwide. Numerous studies have since confirmed the link.
Dr. Vanessa van der Linden, a paediatric neurologist in Recife and one of the first doctors to suspect that Zika caused microcephaly, said Jose is one of the most severe cases with congenital Zika syndrome she has treated.
Jose is slow to follow objects with his crossed eyes. His head is unsteady when he tries to hold it up.
He weighs less than 13 pounds (5.9kg) , far below the 22 pounds (10kg) that is the average for a baby his age.
Breathing problems make his cries sound like gargling, and his legs stiffen when he is picked up. To see, he must wear tiny blue-rimmed glasses, which make him fussy. He also frequently has seizures. To appease him, his mother sometimes places him in a water bucket.
Similarly to Jose, baby Arthur Conceicao, who recently reached the age of one, also has seizures every day despite taking medication for epilepsy.
He is fed high-calorie formula through a tube after he appeared to choke during meals. With Aqua therapy; however, Arthur is developing at a faster pace than before, his mother Rozilene Ferreira said.
Still, her dream, she says, is to see her son eat through his mouth without it being a risk to his life.
Studies are underway to determine if the timing of the infection during pregnancy affects the severity of the abnormalities.
Scientists are also studying three groups of babies whose mothers were infected with Zika. The groups include infants born with microcephaly, some born with normal-sized heads found to have brain damage or other physical problems, and babies who do not show any symptoms or developmental delays.
In Brazil, the government has reported 2,001 cases of microcephaly or other brain malformations in the last year. So far, only 343 have been confirmed by tests to have been caused by Zika, but the Health Ministry argues that the rest are most likely caused by the virus.

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