Brazil is asking its women to hold off on the baby-making for a while … but for very good reasons. The Ministry of Health declared an emergency in the northeast of the country after an alarming number of babies were born with an untreatable brain disorder known as microcephaly, which is likely caused by the mosquito-borne Zika virus. This year, more than 2,400 suspected cases of microcephaly have been reported in 20 Brazilian states, a staggering increase compared with the 147 cases last year, causing six states to declare a state of emergency. “It’s a very personal decision, but at this moment of uncertainty, if families can put off their pregnancy plans, that’s what we’re recommending,” Angela Rocha, a pediatric infectologist told CNN.
Microcephaly causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads, which could cause developmental issues and sometimes early death.”These are newborns who will require special attention their entire lives. It’s an emotional stress that just can’t be imagined,” Rocha said. Doctors speculate the condition began to spike with the appearance of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in Brazil, which is characterized by a mild fever, rash and headaches. The virus was first detected in Brazil early this year, with some believing it might have been imported by tourists from Asia or the South Pacific during the 2014 soccer World Cup. Zika is hard to detect, and often does not cause any symptoms, but Brazil’s Health Ministry estimates that the last outbreak in the country lead to anywhere between a half million and 1.5 million cases.
Read the full story at CNN.