The first child in Puerto Rico with Zika-related microcephaly has been born, the territory’s secretary of health announced Friday.
The fetus’s abnormally small head was not detected until the mother was nearly eight months pregnant, according to The Associated Press, even though the mother was probably infected in her second month.
The mother did not get regular prenatal checkups, the AP quoted the health secretary, Dr. Ana Rius, as saying.
The baby, born within the last two weeks, is still hospitalized with severe birth defects, including vision and hearing problems.
The first case of Zika infection in Puerto Rico was reported last December, but the virus spread slowly for months before exploding into thousands of cases in early summer, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that as many as 50 women a day could be getting infected.
Puerto Rico’s policy is that pregnant women there with Zika symptoms should be seen by a doctor at least three times during a pregnancy, with fetal ultrasounds each time.
The C.D.C., which is underwriting much of the territory’s Zika-fighting efforts, said Friday that the child would be monitored until he or she was 3 under the Zika Active Pregnancy Surveillance System, as are all children born to mothers infected with Zika.
Sometimes babies infected in the womb with viruses like rubella or cytomegalovirus appear normal at birth, but later turn out to have serious problems with hearing, vision or learning, and officials want to know if Zika carries the same risks.