New test will benefit children with asymptomatic Zika

From UW Medicine Newsroom
May 20, 2021

A new device will let doctors monitor infants and toddlers who are asymptomatic with Zika after contracting the virus in utero from their mothers, according to a recently published report  in the journal Physiological Measurement.

A team of researchers, led by Dr. Martin Frasch, an OB-GYN researcher  with the University of Washington School of Medicine, studied whether an electrocardiogram (ECG) would detect heart abnormalities in infants and toddlers months or years after their exposure. They found that, in fact, they could by using a device about the size of a small hockey puck.

“These toddlers are otherwise without any clinical symptoms, but retain this memory of exposure to the Zika virus in utero,” Frasch said. “What seems to connect the dots here is that the Zika virus may create a hypoxic environment for the fetus by its effects on placental physiology. Consequently what we are seeing here appears to be the signature of chronic hypoxia caused by the Zika virus impacting the heart rate variabiliy of the toddlers in this very specific way.”

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