Measuring tape is a critical tool for following Zika virus-exposed children


Invited commentary by Children’s Nationwide prenatal-neonatal neurologist emphasizes worth of researching this population long term


July 07, 2020

A easy measuring tape could be the crucial to determining which little ones could produce neurological and developmental abnormalities from Zika virus exposure in the course of gestation. This is in accordance to an invited commentary revealed July seven in JAMA Network Open up and created by Sarah Mulkey, M.D., Ph.D., prenatal-neonatal neurologist in the Division of Prenatal Pediatrics at Children’s Nationwide Hospital.

Zika virus (ZIKV), 1st isolated in 1947 in the Ziika Forest in Uganda, made headlines in 2015-2016 for producing a common epidemic that distribute via sections of North and South The us, a number of islands in the Pacific and sections of Southeast Asia. Although previously joined with no or delicate symptoms, researchers found in the course of this epidemic that Zika can cross from a expecting girl to her gestating fetus, major to a syndrome marked by microcephaly (decreased brain growth), irregular neurologic tone, eyesight and listening to abnormalities, and joint contractures.

“For the ninety% to 95% of ZIKV-uncovered infants who fortuitously have been not born with extreme abnormalities at start and have been normocephalic, our hope was that these little ones would have ordinary neurodevelopmental outcomes,” Dr. Mulkey writes in the commentary. “Unfortunately, this has not been the circumstance.”

Her commentary expands on a analyze in the exact same situation entitled “Association amongst exposure to antenatal Zika virus and anatomic and neurodevelopmental abnormalities in children” by Cranston et al. In this analyze, the researchers find that head circumference — a easy evaluate taken routinely at postnatal appointments in the U.S. — can present insight into which little ones have been most possible to produce neurologic abnormalities. Their results exhibit that 68% of individuals whose head circumference was in the “normal” range at start designed neurologic problems. Those people whose head circumference was at the upper end of this range have been appreciably a lot less possible to have abnormalities than individuals at the lower end.

Just this one measurement gives significant insight into the hazard of producing neurologic problems just after Zika exposure. Having said that, notes Dr. Mulkey, head circumference growth trajectory is also crucial. Of the 162 infants whose heads have been in the beginning in the normocephalic range at start, about 10.5% went on to produce microcephaly in the months just after start.  

“Because early head growth trajectory is connected with cognitive outcomes in early childhood,” Dr. Mulkey writes, “following the head circumference percentile above time can permit recognition of a youngster with enhanced hazard for very poor end result who could benefit from early intervention therapies.”

This easy assessment could be appreciably augmented with neuroimaging, she adds. The analyze by Cranston et al., as properly as other folks in the industry, have demonstrated that brain imaging usually reveals problems in ZIKV-uncovered little ones, these types of as calcifications and cerebral atrophy, even in individuals with ordinary head circumferences. This imaging doesn’t necessarily need to have to choose spot at start, Dr. Mulkey says. Postnatal enhancement of microcephaly, failure to thrive or developmental hold off can all be triggers for imaging afterwards on.

With each other, Dr. Mulkey says, the analyze by Cranston et al. and other folks that focus on ZIKV-uncovered little ones aid the need to have for subsequent these people long term. Kids uncovered to ZIKV in the epidemic nearly five years in the past are now approaching school age, a time fraught with extra challenging cognitive and social calls for. As a result of her possess investigation at Children’s National’s Congenital Zika Virus Program and collaboration with colleagues in Colombia, Dr. Mulkey is subsequent a number of cohorts of ZIKV uncovered little ones as they improve. She a short while ago revealed a analyze on neurological abnormalities in just one of these cohorts in JAMA Pediatrics in January 2020.

“It’s actually significant to comply with these little ones as long as attainable so we’ll actually know the outcomes of this virus,” Dr. Mulkey says.

Media speak to: Beth Riggs | 301-233-4038