1 in 7 children of Zika-infected moms have problems: Study

In this Dec. 16, 2016 file photo, Puerto Rico resident Michelle Flandez caresses her two-month-old son Inti Perez, diagnosed with microcephaly linked to the mosquito-borne Zika virus, in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. (AP)
Updated 08 August 2018

1 in 7 children of Zika-infected moms have problems: Study

  • Most Zika infections are spread through the bites of infected mosquitoes, but it can also be spread through sex or blood transfusion
  • The percentage rose to 14 when the researchers counted later-developing problems possibly caused by Zika

NEW YORK: One out of every seven babies born to US mothers who were infected with Zika during pregnancy developed some kind of health problem, according to the first long-term look at those children.
Tuesday’s study focused on the children of women in Puerto Rico and other territories, where most of the US cases were seen when the disease swept across the Americas more than two years ago.
Most people infected with Zika don’t get sick. In others, it can cause a mild illness, with fever, rash and joint pain. But infection during pregnancy can lead to severe brain-related birth defects.
Earlier studies focused on those birth defects. The new research is unique in that it’s a large study that looked for conditions that became apparent only later, said Margaret Honein of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one of the authors.
The researchers looked at 1,450 kids who were at least 1 year old and whose mothers were infected with Zika while pregnant. Most were in Puerto Rico, but the count included American Samoa, the Marshall Islands, the US Virgin Islands and Micronesia.
Of those children, 6 percent had birth defects, such as abnormally small heads, damaged brains or eye irregularities. That’s about 30 times what’s seen in children generally.
The percentage rose to 14 when the researchers also counted later-developing problems possibly caused by Zika, including seizures, developmental delays and difficulty swallowing or moving.
Researchers also found that not enough kids were being checked for problems. For example, only about a third received recommended eye exams by a specialist, half got a hearing evaluation, and less than two-thirds got brain scans.
Medical services have been disrupted at times in hurricane-battered Puerto Rico. Still, it means kids who need therapy or treatment may not be getting it, Honein said.
Most Zika infections are spread through the bites of infected mosquitoes, but it can also be spread through sex or blood transfusion. The CDC previously has advised couples planning to conceive to abstain from sex or to use condoms for at least six months after a male partner comes down with Zika. On Tuesday, health officials changed the recommendation to three months in the wake of research that found the risk of sexual transmission is shorter than originally feared.


Startup of the Week: Saudi baker and chef winning hearts of food lovers

Photo supplied
Updated 20 August 2019

Startup of the Week: Saudi baker and chef winning hearts of food lovers

  • Working over 15 hours a day and being self-taught was just the start; Essam is the interior and graphic designer, the marketer, the CEO and the chef at White Mountain

A Saudi bakery and restaurant business specializing in pastries is finding its way into Saudi hearts with a delectable selection of fine Italian, French, and Swiss foods.
Ahmad Essam, 28, a self-taught baker and chef, left a productive family business to create what is now one of the most prestigious bakeries in Alkhobar.
Essam set up his bakery and restaurant while working as a production engineer, selling tarts and cakes to his friends.
He was overwhelmed by the encouragement he received, and little by little Essam, his dream of running his own company emerged.
Working over 15 hours a day and being self-taught was just the start; Essam is the interior and graphic designer, the marketer, the CEO and the chef at White Mountain.
Baking French pastries such as croissants, macarons, mille-feuille, eclairs and tarts require a true artisan. Essam described the glory he feels when he bakes, saying: “Dealing with precise tips to get the real essence of French pastries and reaching a level to bake without recipes is a matter of experience and good knowledge. Being a real baker requires a lot of learning as it’s not only about mixing water and flour; its trick lies behind the process of fermentation that sometimes lasts for days.’’
Every once in a while, the young man distributes membership books to loyal customers. “On Valentine’s Day, we distributed 3,000 roses,” he added.
Essam is very passionate, and dreams of opening a cooking academy in Saudi Arabia so he can inspire other amateur bakers; he told Arab News about his future 12,000-square-meters cooking village project that he is aiming to create in Riyadh, “including a library that collects all cookbooks, a seasonal spice shop, a great lake garden, a pizzeria, glossary shop and more, all of which falls under one theme: Cooking.”
For him, business is an obsession and profession. “Chefs have their egos. They are dealing with a tricky job and they know what they are doing exactly. They do not accept comments or advice from other chefs,” he explained.
You can follow him for more information on White Mountain on Instagram: @wm.bakery.