Stories about: microcephaly

Microcephaly: Alainah’s story

Alainah-FB_IMG_1457736172516-croppedSixteen-month-old Alainah Therrien of Cape Cod was probably never exposed to the Zika virus. But she has a smaller-than-normal head and was diagnosed with microcephaly even before she was born.

“I was told when I was 24 weeks pregnant that we would have a daughter who was mentally retarded,” recounts her mother Melissa.

Melissa’s labor was induced at 36 weeks because Alainah had stopped growing. After Alainah was born, a tiny 5 pounds, Melissa saw the word microcephaly for the first time on the bottom of a medical form.

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Q&A: Zika virus in mothers linked with microcephaly in babies in Brazil

microcephalyYou may have heard the news: Brazil is facing a startling outbreak of microcephaly, a rare condition in which an infant is born with a head much smaller than it should be. Microcephaly almost always causes significant brain damage and can be life threatening. The epidemic has been linked to a simultaneous influx of the mosquito-borne virus Zika, which was first detected in the country last April and is now spreading rapidly around the Americas.

Thriving spoke with Dr. Ganeshwaran Mochida, a pediatric neurologist at Boston Children’s Hospital who specializes in microcephaly, and Dr. Asim Ahmed, an infectious disease researcher at Boston Children’s who specializes in mosquito-borne illnesses, to find out more about the situation and what you can do to keep your family safe.

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A fighting chance for Eva

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Violet and Vincent with their new sister

Early in 2015, Jennifer and Vincent Ramirez had everything they wanted — two healthy children: Violet, 5, and Vincent, 3, and they had just bought a new home in Salt Lake City. The couple decided to try for a third child.

Jennifer learned she was pregnant in a few weeks.

“Everything was going according to plan,” recalls Vincent. In July of 2015, the entire family packed into an exam room for Jennifer’s five-month ultrasound.

“The doctor wasn’t talking much, and the ultrasound seemed to be taking longer than usual,” says Jennifer. After the ultrasound was done, the doctor asked the couple if they could put their children in another room while they discussed the results.

“There’s something wrong with your baby’s head,” the doctor reported. The week after the ultrasound Jennifer had a fetal MRI.

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