Not Just Zika: Other Mosquito-Borne Viruses May Cause Birth Defects, Study Suggests
January 31, 2018
(STAT News) – When scientists discovered that the Zika virus was causing birth defects, it seemed to catch the world off guard. The mosquito-borne virus could slip from mother to fetus and damage the developing brain, leaving newborns with a range of serious complications. But what if other viruses spread by insects also pose a threat to fetuses? On Wednesday, scientists reported that two viruses, West Nile and Powassan, attacked mouse fetuses when pregnant mice were infected, killing about half of them. The viruses also successfully infected human placental tissue in lab experiments, an indication that the viruses may be able to breach the placental barrier that keeps many maternal infections from reaching the fetus.