Rotterdam hospital links Zika virus to more birth defects

A recent study lead researchers from the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam to believe that, in addition to already known birth defects in babies like microecphaly, the Zika virus may also cause damage to bones and joints, RTL Nieuws reports.

The researchers studied the fetus and placenta of a woman who had a miscarriage at eleven weeks. They found the Zika virus in connective tissue around the cartilage of the eleven-week fetus. This led them to conclude that the virus can also be active outside the brain and spinal cord. And it can start having effect very early in the pregnancy.

It is unclear whether the virus caused the miscarriage, but the researchers find it likely. "Other causes for miscarriage, such as genetic birth defects and infections, were excluded."

It was already known that unborn infants infected with the Zika virus have an increase risk of microcephaly - a condition characterized by a small skull - and the nerve disease Guillain Barre, which can cause sever muscle problems.

Two weeks ago the RIVM revealed that 60 people were diagnosed with the Zika virus in the Netherlands so far this year, a "small number" of them were pregnant at the time.