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.