Medical journal, The Lancet, recently published the findings of a study conducted by researchers at Universidade Federal de Pelotas in Brazil. According to the study results, not all Zika virus-infected babies have microcephaly. However, the babies still showed signs of child-development delays.
"Most suspected cases ended up being normal newborn babies with small heads," lead study author Professor Cesar Victora said. "However, one in five definite or probable Zika cases had head circumference values in the normal range. Therefore, the current focus on microcephaly screening alone is too narrow."
Victoria also said that based on their findings, it is also possible that the Zika virus infection may also cause brain damage in newborns. According to the researchers, a fetus' skull usually develops at 30 weeks of gestation. This means that even though the babies may be born without microcephaly, there is still a huge possibility of substantial brain damage.
Researchers from another study revealed that Zika virus impacts the infant's brain tissue, that can eventually cause cell death, irregular calcium deposits and physical malformation. Dr. William Schaffner, Vanderbilt University Medical Center's infectious disease expert, explained that if the brain development is "affected in utero," there may be other birth defects, such as eyesight and hearing.
"I'm afraid the more we learn the nastier the Zika virus is," Schaffner told ABC News. "It's quite evident that the Zika virus, if it gets into a pregnant woman, can get into the placenta and into the baby and it gets right into the brain cells."
In a study published by Madison's University of Wisconsin, the researchers found out that Zika Virus can survive in pregnant mother's blood for as long two months. David O'Connor, lead study author, said that pregnancy can weaken the immune system, which means that pregnant women who have been infected by Zika virus may not able to overcome the infection. Which means that continued Zika virus infection can be more dangerous to the fetus.