Case-Control Study Strengthens Association Between Zika Infection, Microcephaly In Newborns

CIDRAP News: Case-control study adds to Zika-microcephaly link
“Brazilian researchers [Thursday] added an eagerly awaited piece of the Zika-microcephaly puzzle, publishing the first case-control study, which found a strong link between the two conditions. …The study, ordered by Brazil’s health ministry, included all babies born with microcephaly in eight public hospitals in the country’s Pernambuco state, a Zika hot spot, between Jan. 14 and May 2. The team published its findings in Lancet Infectious Diseases. Investigators compared each of the 32 microcephaly cases they found with two controls: the first two infants born the following morning without microcephaly…” (Schnirring, 9/15).

The Economist: The Zika virus: A mystery no more
“…At first, scientists knew little more than anyone else. Zika is not new; the virus was first isolated in Africa in 1947. But it was obscure, and therefore little studied. Only during the present outbreak did it become clear that infection among pregnant women was associated with birth defects and neurological problems in babies. But there has been much progress, and scientists now know far more about the disease than they did when the outbreak began…” (9/17).

Los Angeles Times: Researchers strengthen link between Zika and microcephaly
“…Preliminary results from a study commissioned by the Brazilian Ministry of Health found that 13 out of 32 newborns with microcephaly tested positive for the Zika virus. Meanwhile, none of the 62 newborns in a comparison group who had normal-sized heads showed any sign of infection…” (Kaplan, 9/15).

Reuters: Study confirms Zika causes brain birth defects, questions remain
“…After taking samples and conducting brain scans, the researchers found that 41 percent of mothers of babies with microcephaly tested positive for Zika infection in blood or cerebrospinal fluid samples, compared with none of those whose babies did not have microcephaly. A high proportion of mothers of both microcephaly and non-microcephaly babies also tested positive for another mosquito-borne virus, dengue fever, as well as other infections such as herpes, rubella, and toxoplasma. ‘Our findings suggest Zika virus should be officially added to the list of congenital infections,’ said Thália Velho Barreto de Araújo of Brazil’s Pernambuco University, who also worked on the research team. ‘However, many questions still remain to be answered — including the role of previous dengue infection’…” (Kelland, 9/15).

The KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report summarized news and information on global health policy from hundreds of sources, from May 2009 through December 2020. All summaries are archived and available via search.

KFF Headquarters: 185 Berry St., Suite 2000, San Francisco, CA 94107 | Phone 650-854-9400
Washington Offices and Barbara Jordan Conference Center: 1330 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005 | Phone 202-347-5270 | Email Alerts: | |

The independent source for health policy research, polling, and news, KFF is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.