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Capitol Correspondence - 07.15.19

Study Finds 1/3 Children Exposed to Zika in Womb Have Developmental Disabilities

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ANCOR is sharing this Washington Post article because some of our members support children with developmental disabilities. Medicaid disability supports are also the main network to which children with developmental disabilities transition after they exit the school system.

As written by the Washington Post:

“A new study of toddlers exposed to the Zika virus during their mothers’ pregnancies found that nearly a third suffered developmental delays and other problems — even if they were born without the abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brains often associated with the virus.

The study of more than 200 babies, published Monday in the journal Nature Medicine, also shows that a very small number of children born with the congenital condition known as microcephaly had their symptoms improve. Conversely, a very small number of the children born without symptoms of microcephaly went on to develop it.

The research further noted a higher rate of autism among children exposed to the virus than among those in the general population.

Infectious disease expert Albert Ko, a professor of epidemiology and medicine at the Yale School of Public Health, who was not involved in the study, said that during the 2015-2016 Zika epidemic, public health professionals were focused on the most severe birth defects, such as microcephaly, but ‘we always suspected that was the tip of the iceberg.’

[…]

Indeed, Ko said, research has shown that about 4 to 6 percent of those studied developed microcephaly, many with abnormally small heads and skulls, eye problems, hearing problems, issues with joints and muscles, and severe developmental issues.

But experts say the new research shows the issue may be more complex. Because a large number of children without microcephaly are nevertheless still suffering neurosensory and developmental problems, children who were exposed to the virus before birth should be monitored throughout their formative years for potential problems in school and in life.”