First Zika Baby is Born in Continental U.S.
N.J. hospital addressing unique challenges of infant and mom
A baby girl with microcephaly caused by the Zika virus was born in New Jersey Tuesday — marking the first birth in the continental U.S. of a child with the condition. The infant is the second overall to be born in the U.S. with this condition (the first was in Hawaii).
The CDC reports there are 310 pregnant women currently in America with laboratory evidence of the Zika virus.
The 31-year-old mother from Honduras contracted the Zika virus in her home country during her second trimester. Knowing the risks to her unborn daughter, she came to the U.S. seeking better care, and has family in the area, said CNN.
Hackensack University Medical Center doctors said she was admitted on Friday and evaluated again on Monday. The decision was made to go ahead with a c-section immediately. HUMC staff said it was a difficult day for everyone.
“The difficulty — is dealing with the emotional aspect of what the mother is going through. She underwent an uncomplicated surgery, she is trying her best to cope with this emotionally, that is where we stand.”
The baby does not have Zika, but microcephaly, explained Suzanne Staebler, a neonatal nurse practitioner and associate professor at the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory University in Georgia. Babies with the devastating birth defect are born with small heads and brains.
The child was born with intestinal and visual issues as well, said Dr. Julia Piwoz, Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at HUMC. Her doctors will continue to evaluate the extent of the virus on her as well as her ability to do common childhood things like suck, swallow, and eat in the coming days and weeks ahead.
The medical team emphasized that neither the mother nor the infant acquired the infection in the U.S. and neither poses an infectious risk to others.
Earlier this year, a child with microcephaly due to Zika was born in Hawaii.
The latest birth is one of many more to come, suggested Staebler. The Centers for Disease Control reports there are 310 pregnant women currently in America with laboratory evidence of the virus.
“Hospitals are equipped, without a doubt,” Staebler told LifeZette.
She said the extent of special care needed depends on the severity of each case. Some Zika babies will have other brain or central nervous system complications, but hospitals can diagnose and treat them.
"These kids will have the potential to have all sorts of neurological developmental delays and poor outcomes," Staebler said. The doctors will likely be conducting brain scans on Zika babies to get an idea of the internal anatomy and possible defects.
"They know what to anticipate," she said.