Zika virus: the children of the outbreak

During the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, Brazil faced a major Zika virus outbreak that resulted in a widespread epidemic. Zika is primarily spread by mosquito bites but may also be transmitted through sexual contact, blood transfusion, and from mother-to-child during pregnancy. In adults, the infection is barely noticeable as the symptoms are generally mild, resembling those of a cold. However, babies infected in utero are more likely to be born with congenital Zika syndrome (CZS). CZS can cause many congenital abnormalities such as microcephaly (smaller-sized head), ocular damage, central nervous system damage, etc. In Brazil, over 3 000 diagnosed or suspected cases of CZS were documented. By the time the affected children reach two years of age, several developmental delays are observed.

laval igem
Figure taken from article. Children with CZS scored below five on a possible score of 10 for every skill documented by ASQ.

In the study led by C. Wheeler, et. al., data analysis of the Age and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) investigating 47 children of 16 months of age with CZS revealed deficits in age-appropriate skills across the board. ASQ are tools created to monitor early child development by verifying age-appropriate indicators. Thus, the children should get close to a perfect score. By contrast, as shown in the graphic below, communication skills of the 47 children with CZS were relatively strong whereas fine motor and problem-solving skills were weak, with average ASQ scores below two on a zero-to-ten scale. Moreover, males outperformed females on all the developmental skills assessed. Altogether, the results support the assumption that children with CZS will grow with developmental delays which are likely to have lifelong consequences. As the ASQ should not affect life expectancy, the communities in Brazil must now identify and elaborate strategies to provide the constant care the affected children may need.

Summary written by: Laval University iGEM Team

To read the full article, please click the following link:

Skills attained by infants with congenital Zika syndrome: Pilot data from Brazil

Anne C. Wheeler, Camila V. Ventura, Ty Ridenour, Danielle Toth, Lucélia Lima Nobrega, Lana Claudia Silva de Souza Dantas, Camilla Rocha, Donald B. Bailey Jr., Liana O. Ventura




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