Queen Elizabeth Hospital (FP)
THE MINISTRY OF Health is investigating the cause of microcephaly in two babies delivered at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital this week. The doctors at the QEH are carrying out investigations to determine whether the birth defects are linked to the Zika virus or cytomegalovirus infection during pregnancy.
Microcephaly is a birth defect in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age. Babies with microcephaly often have smaller brains that might not have developed properly.
On average, two to three babies are born with microcephaly every year, unrelated to Zika, in Barbados. To date, there has been no increase in the number of newborns with microcephaly. Additionally, no children born to mothers who tested positive for Zika have been diagnosed with microcephaly.
Pregnant women suspected or confirmed with Zika infection are monitored at the high-risk antenatal clinic at the QEH, and these two cases of microcephaly were not among those being monitored. Currently, 14 pregnant women have been identified with the Zika Virus; of these seven have given birth and there were no obvious birth defects detected in those babies.
The Ministry advises women who are pregnant and experiencing any of the symptoms of Zika – fever, rash, conjunctivitis (red eye), headache and temporary arthritis, mainly in the small joints of the hands and feet, to contact their doctor as soon as possible for testing.
The Ministry of Health further urges pregnant women and women of child-bearing age to be especially careful, and to take all necessary steps to protect themselves from mosquito bites as the rainy season progresses. (BGIS)