There are many causes of microcephaly. Whatever the cause, it is an incurable
condition. It carries catastrophic consequences for its victims and their
families. At Beam Legal Team many of our children suffer from microcephaly
in addition to
cerebral palsy. In the case of our clients their microcephaly is usually caused by hypoxia
and ischemia during labor and delivery. These babies will be born with
a normal head size (normocephalic). However, since the hypoxia-ischemia
does not happen until a few days or a few hours before birth, it typically
takes weeks and months for microcephaly to be evident, as the cells inside
the brain do not grow and multiply and so the skull begins to grow and
expand less than normal for a newborn.
Unlike microcephaly caused by
intrapartum hypoxia and ischemia, microcephaly from Zika is present immediately at birth,
because of a process that began early in gestation. When the medical doctors
finally made the connection between the high percentage of Brazilian babies
born with microcephaly and the Zika virus, it shocked the world health
community. The fact that the Zika virus is being transmitted through mosquitos
presents a monumental challenge for not only Brazil, but the entire world.
Since the link was first made between microcephaly and the Zika virus,
it has been discovered that the Zika virus can also be transmitted through
non-protected sexual contact. Such a case was recently reported in Dallas, Texas.
It is difficult to remember the last time mosquitos combined with human
sexual activity to spread such a destructive virus. Even the deadly world-wide
spread of HIV did not get a “free ride” from mosquitos. If
the Olympics go forward in Brazil this summer, Zika will be spread farther
and farther via global air travel. Since microcephaly is incurable, the
emphasis must be on prevention. The Center for Disease Control (CDC),
the World Health Organization (WHO), NGO’s and various governments
presently have a monumental task ahead in trying to prevent Zika caused
microcephaly. President Obama just asked for $2 billion dollars from Congress
to fight Zika. We all wish them great speed.
However, for the clients and families of Beam Legal Team the prevention
of microcephaly was there all along. Prevention of microcephaly caused
by hypoxia and ischemia during labor and delivery is simple: EARLY DELIVERY—USUALLY
BY AN EARLIER CAESARIAN SECTIbON. Our children did not need the CDC or
WHO, all they needed for example, was a competent vigilant nurse who did
not inject too much Pitocin and hyperstimulate a mother’s uterus
during labor and delivery; OR an obstetrician who came to the patients’
bedside when there were variable and late decelerations of the baby’s
heart on the electronic fetal heart monitor.