Florida records birth of first baby with Zika-related birth defects

infant zika copy

The first case of microcephaly, a birth defect in which babies are born with abnormally small heads and incomplete brain development, has surfaced in Florida. The defect is caused by the Zika virus, which was contracted by the mother while in her native Haiti, authorities said.

Officials with the Florida Department of Health confirmed the case Tuesday morning. The newborn’s mother came to Florida to deliver her baby, officials said.

The department is working with the family to get the newborn services through the state’s Early Steps program.

Officials did not say where in Florida the child was born.

Zika is a disease believed to have originated in South America and is spread through mosquito bites. It has reached into Central America, the Caribbean and now is surfacing in Florida, where all of those infected contracted it elsewhere and have traveled here.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant not travel to Zika-affected areas. The CDC has urged doctors and other health care providers to consider testing all pregnant women who have a history of traveling to areas where the virus is present.

Babies with the microcephaly defect often have a range of problems including developmental delay, intellectual disability, problems with movement and balance, hearing loss and vision problems.

The state Department of Health says currently there are 183 cases of Zika virus in Florida. Of those, 40 involve pregnant women. Miami-Dade County has 63 cases, Broward County, 32 and Orange County, 15.

The Tampa Bay region, including Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties, has 13 cases, according to state figures.

Keith Morelli

With a 38-year career in journalism behind him, Keith Morelli now writes about medical marijuana and the politics of pot in Florida. He began his career as a news editor with a weekly paper in Zephyrhills and his last gig was with The Tampa Tribune, which folded unceremoniously in May. While there, Morelli was general assignment reporter for the Metro section, writing a wide variety of pieces ranging from obituaries, to crime, to red tide, panthers and city government. In between those jobs, he spent nine years as a bureau chief for the Ocala Star-Banner.


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