It seems like everyday brings new information on the Zika virus epidemic, and today’s news isn’t positive.
The health concerns associated with the mosquito-borne virus continues to pile up, with a new report from Brazilian researchers suggesting the virus can cause a loss of hearing in babies born to an infected mother.
It’s clear that scientists are still grasping the full breadth of the potential problems incited by the virus. Amongst the most serious are the birth defect microcephaly, causing babies to be born with abnormally small heads, and other health issues like vision problems and various brain afflictions.
In the new study, published Tuesday in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the researchers found four children out of 70 with Zika-related microcephaly also suffered from hearing loss. The root of the cause appears to be damage to the inner ear, or damaged nerves from the ear to the brain. There was no evidence from the four individuals that their loss of hearing could be attributed to another ailment. Through that thought process, it’s clear that hearing loss can be feasibly linked to Zika, making it another potential risk from the virus.
Congenital infections can cause hearing problems, though this is unique in that this is one of the first times hearing loss has been documented in children with Zika-related microcephaly. The reports added that it’s possible for children born with the infection won’t suffer from microcephaly, though their hearing may still be at risk – this is still to be determined.