Bioethics News

Zika Virus and Birth Defects — Reviewing the Evidence for Causality

April 14, 2016

(NEJM) – On the basis of this review, we conclude that a causal relationship exists between prenatal Zika virus infection and microcephaly and other serious brain anomalies. Evidence that was used to support this causal relationship included Zika virus infection at times during prenatal development that were consistent with the defects observed; a specific, rare phenotype involving microcephaly and associated brain anomalies in fetuses or infants with presumed or confirmed congenital Zika virus infection; and data that strongly support biologic plausibility, including the identification of Zika virus in the brain tissue of affected fetuses and infants. Given the recognition of this causal relationship, we need to intensify our efforts toward the prevention of adverse outcomes caused by congenital Zika virus infection.

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