Health

New Photos Show What Happens to Babies With Zika in the Womb

Brazilian researchers released a new study on the Zika virus this week, offering the largest set of brain scans yet for fetuses and newborns infected with the virus during the first trimester. The study — and corresponding images — underscores the importance of preventative care and regular imaging for pregnant women living in areas affected by Zika.

zika

The scans revealed the devastating progression of microcephaly — a brain abnormality associated with Zika — in babies.

zika

While most Zika-infected fetuses showed early signs of microcephaly (smaller head circumference, excessive fluid in the brain), the study also showed that development problems aren't always apparent without advanced imaging. Some fetuses had normal head circumferences despite being infected, for example.

In this photo, the fetal head circumference appeared normal 16 weeks into pregnancy — but by the 22nd week, the baby's head dramatically decreased in size.

zika

All fetuses and newborns included in the study "showed cortical malformations and changes located at the junction of the brain's white and grey matter," according to a press release. "The researchers also identified reduction in brain volume, cortical development abnormalities and ventriculomegaly, a condition in which the brain cavities (spaces filled with fluids) are larger than normal."

The researchers also discovered that the virus impacted bone development in infected babies.

zika

As the Zika virus continues to spread in the U.S. and around the world, researchers are trying to keep the public — and pregnant women in particular — informed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has urged pregnant women to avoid traveling to Zika-affected areas, including parts of Florida where recent outbreaks from locally transmitted mosquitoes have been reported.

[H/T Huffington Post]

RELATED: Here Are the U.S. Locations with the Most Zika Virus Cases