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Babies born with microcephaly in Barbados

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Aug 9, CMC – The Barbados health authorities Tuesday said they were investigating the cause of microcephaly in two babies delivered at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) this week.

A statement from the Ministry of Health said that the doctors at the QEH are carrying out investigations to determine whether the birth defects are linked to the mosquito borne 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, the statement noted.

“To date, there has been no increase in the number of new borns with microcephaly. Additionally, no children born to mothers who tested positive for Zika have been diagnosed with microcephaly.”

The statement said that 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 statement noted.

It said that the Ministry of Health is advising 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. “