Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Women with Zika in Tahiti had 1 percent birth defects risk

17 March 2016, 10:42

Women who got pregnant during a Zika outbreak in Tahiti two years ago had about a 1 percent chance of having a baby with an abnormally small head, according to a new study published Tuesday. It's a surprisingly low risk that experts say might not match the threat of the epidemic now spreading explosively in the Americas.

The World Health Organization declared Zika to be a global emergency last month, based on suspicions it is causing a spike in a worrying birth defect known as microcephaly as well as a rare condition that sometimes results in temporary paralysis.

Before reaching the Americas last year, the mosquito-spread Zika triggered epidemics in the South Pacific and in French Polynesia, including its biggest island, Tahiti. Most people who are infected don't get sick or only have mild symptoms.

After a surge in microcephaly was detected in Brazil, international scientists combed through records from the 2013-14 Tahiti outbreak to see if the same thing had happened there.

They found only eight such cases after tracking about 8,000 pregnant women. Seven occurred near the end of the outbreak, which researchers said suggested their mothers had been infected early in their pregnancies. Of those cases, five of the pregnancies were terminated.

The researchers created a mathematical model that estimated about 1 out of every 100 pregnant women infected with Zika during their first trimester might have a baby with an unusually small head. The paper was published online Tuesday in the journal, Lancet.

But another researcher not involved in the study said the figure seems too low given the birth defects seen in Brazil. Laura Rodrigues, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said she expected the figure to be closer to 10 percent

"If 1 percent is right, then that would be great news," said Rodrigues, who has spent time in Brazil researching the outbreak. "But it just seems a bit implausible right now."

Other viruses that cause the birth defect carry higher risk — like rubella, which has a 40 to 100 percent risk of birth defects when women are infected during their first trimester of pregnancy.

Simon Cauchemez, the study's lead author, warned that the widespread Zika infections seen in French Polynesia — where two thirds of the population were sickened — could have serious consequences for the outbreak in Brazil.

"If you take 1 percent of the many pregnant women infected, clearly this is a big concern for public health," Cauchemez said.

Other experts said Zika might have mutated into a more dangerous form since it first appeared in French Polynesia.

"Something in the virus could have changed to make it more or less harmful to the fetus," said Dr. Ganeshwaran H. Mochida, a neurologist at Boston Children's Hospital.

Rodrigues said it would likely be several more months before any definitive conclusions can be reached.

"We will soon have more pieces of the puzzle," she said.

- AP

Tags tahiti zika

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...