Deep breath. Even though it's scary, this is information we need to know.
File this under "things you wish weren't true." A new study published in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report has found yet another way the mosquito-borne Zika virus can harm babies, beyond causing microcephaly and brain damage. Now, according to Health Day, Brazilian researchers say 6 percent of these babies may also experience hearing loss.
After looking at 70 infants who suffer from microcephaly caused by Zika, researchers concluded that "Congenital infection with Zika virus should be considered a risk factor for hearing loss." They added, "Children with evidence of congenital Zika virus infection who have normal initial screening tests should receive regular follow-up, because onset of hearing loss associated with other congenital viral infections can be delayed and the loss can be progressive."
Sadly, this isn't the only new adverse effect researchers are starting to note about the illness's effects on babies, both in utero and after birth. Another recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests Zika can actually live on and cause damage in newborns for at least two months after birth.
In this case, researchers say a baby who was born to a mom who sexually contracted the virus from the baby's father while pregnant appeared normal at birth but had neurological abnormalities on MRIs.
But get this: When the baby was 67 days old, he showed signs of Zika in his blood, then by 8 months of age, it was seemingly gone. Unfortunately, the damage had already been done, as "he showed neuropsychomotor developmental delay," and his symptoms appeared to be getting worse.
Health Day also reports that vision problems and malformed joints have also been linked to Zika, which this summer has been transmitted domestically, in Florida.
It's likely more research on the ill-effects of this terrifying virus will continue to emerge as time goes on. Luckily, summer is almost over in the U.S., and along with it, mosquito season.
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.