Myth: Microcephaly is the only problem Zika can cause for a fetus if the mother is infected during pregnancy.
This is a myth and is not correct!
Left to right: Babies with typical head size, microcephaly, and severe microcephaly
Image from CDC
Truth: Many people have heard of microcephaly in connection with Zika virus. It's true that microcephaly is one possible result of Zika infection during pregnancy. Babies with microcephaly have much smaller heads than expected. Sometimes this is linked to other problems, such as seizures or developmental delays. Although microcephaly can be caused by Zika, there are also babies born with microcephaly for other reasons.
Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause Congenital Zika Syndrome, a pattern of birth defects that may include:
- Severe microcephaly with partially collapsed skull
- Feeding problems or swallowing difficulty
- Decreased brain tissue
- Brain damage
- Damage to the back of the eye
- Hearing and vision problems
- Joints with limited range of motion
- Too much muscle tone and restricted movement
Therefore, although microcephaly may be the best known side effect, Zika can cause a variety of severe birth defects. Since Zika is so new, some other effects of Zika may still be unknwon.