This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Zika Does More Brain Damage Than Previously Thought

Even as the U.S. Congress sits on its hands with respect to funding an anti-Zika virus program, the news just keeps getting worse. We heard last week that the virus has the potential to harm the brains of adults, not just babies in utero. Now we are learning that the damage to babies' brains is even more dire than originally believed. The Guardian notes that:
A new report shows in graphic detail the kind of damage Zika infections can do to the developing brain – damage that goes well beyond microcephaly, a birth defect in which
the baby’s head is much smaller than normal.

“From an imaging standpoint, the abnormalities in the brain are very severe when compared to other congenital infections,” said the study’s co-author Dr Deborah Levine of Beth Israel Deaconess medical centre and a radiology professor at Harvard Medical School.

As with other reports, the paper suggests that Zika does the most harm in the first trimester of pregnancy. The researchers plan to keep following the cases to see what impact prenatal Zika infections have on future brain development.
Keep in mind that this study was conducted among infants born in the Brazilian state of ParaĆ­ba in north-eastern Brazil, where the most severe cases have been found, as I noted a few weeks ago. Nonetheless, it is a scary result and will likely continue to fuel the increased demand for abortion in the region.

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