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
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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.


Comptoir Libanais brings the Levant to London

Comptoir Libanais has outlets across the UK. (All images supplied)
Updated 19 September 2018
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Comptoir Libanais brings the Levant to London

  • Comptoir Libanais has 22 branches around the UK
  • The restaurant is known for its colorful interior and delicious food

LONDON: For years, London has been known for embracing culinary tastes from all over the world, served up by establishments ranging from snazzy and glitzy new restaurants to venues that are more than 100 years old and have been handed down from one generation to the next.
Comptoir Libanais (Lebanese Canteen), which was founded in 2008, stands out among the more recent arrivals for bringing a true, authentic taste of the Levant to London and beyond, with almost two dozen restaurants in the English capital and other cities including Birmingham, Manchester, Oxford and Liverpool.

For years when he was a child growing up in Algeria, Tony Kitous, the restaurant’s founder and owner, watched his mother create tasty meals for his family. This was something he carried with him when he moved to England at the age of 18.
“I came to London with a dream but it wasn’t until I scrubbed dishes and slept in friends’ houses that I realized what I wanted my dream to be: To bring a taste of home to London, a city I grew to enjoy and love,” he said.
Kitous’s passion for Middle Eastern food and what it symbolizes, the culture and hospitality, is clear in his colorfully decorated restaurants, which resemble traditional Beirut canteens or souks. The menu offers a mix of hearty and light dishes, including mezzes, wraps, grills, salads and traditional side dishes.
“I want all visitors to feel right at home, even if they’re on the go,” said Kitous. “The patrons that try the restaurant for the first time can see how we choose the freshest ingredients from our partners and can truly feel as if they’re in the Levant region.
“Lebanese food is universal. It has a bit of everything in it without having the ingredients over powering one another — all dishes complement one another.”
Every dish, every ingredient and even the plates on which they are served are personally selected by Kitous. “Nothing but fresh is allowed here,” he said.
It all sounds great but does the food live up to the expectations? I dined at the Oxford Street branch and found that the fatoush, hummus and cheese sambousak were great starters. The fresh halloumi manousha had just the right amount of crispiness around the edge, with a soft middle complementing the cheese.
The lamb and prune tagine, served with a side of couscous, swept us to the streets of Morocco. The lamb was soft and melted in the mouth, complemented by the sweetness of the prunes. As a vegetarian option, the aubergine tagine was balanced and tasty.
For Arab diners the menu is filled with the tastes of home and it is hard to imagine how anyone could limit themselves to ordering just one dish. Every option was perfectly seasoned and the table was a beautiful, tasty mess — truly a canteen experience.
The interior design of all Comptoir Libanais venues is similar, offering a burst of color and eccentricity through mismatched tiles, colorful furniture and walls adorned with old Arabic movie posters, including one of legendary actress Sirine Jamal Al-Dine with her signature smile. Thanks to an open kitchen in the back, the restaurant is always bustling with activity and the sounds of patrons enjoying their meals. You could really sense the hints of Kitous’s childhood memories imprinted in the decor. Whether you are in the mood for a hearty breakfast, a quick lunch or a good, delicious dinner to end your day, Comptoir Libanais will not disappoint.