Babies whose mothers were infected with the virus during pregnancy Zika will be monitored for up to 3 years, even if they have not reported any symptom at birth. In addition to head circumference measurement, which is the primary criterion for microcephaly notification, other malformations resulting from the infection will be investigated. Changes were announced today (Nov. 18) by the Ministry of Health.
Pregnant women are now recommended to undergo two tests ultrasonography during the prenatal period, as an attempt to identify neurological alterations during pregnancy. In addition to the one done in the first three months, another test should be done around the seventh month of pregnancy. According to the ministry, this service will receive $15.5 million.
One year of emergency
The measures were announced one year after the declaration of national emergency due to the rise in the number of microcephaly cases registered in Brazil. According to the government, the measures were based on recent scientific evidence on the effects of Zika's infection on the baby development.
"We have learnt a lot and acquired knowledge over this one year. Brazil acquired 25% of all the knowledge from researches developed around the world, "said Health Minister Ricardo Barros. He noted that in addition to microcephaly, other malformations like vision, hearing, or limb problems have been identified. The alterations can be observed throughout the first three years of the child's life.
More recent data from the ministry indicate 11.119 notifications of microcephaly nationwide since November last year, with 60% of them reported in the Northeast region. Of the total, 2.143 cases were confirmed for microcephaly associated with the Zika virus — 78% of them in the Northeast.
According to the ministry, the rehabilitation network linked to the Unified Public Health Care System (SUS) currently provides 1.541 services, of which 147 are Specialized Rehabilitation Centers (working with early stimulation therapy and children's rehabilitation), 4.375 family health support centers, and psychosocial support 2.338 centers.
The ministry expects to provide new services until 16 December 16, most of them in Northeastern municipalities.
Translated by Amaryllis Anchieta