Public Health Approach to Addressing the Needs of Children Affected by Congenital Zika Syndrome
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Public Health Approach to Addressing the Needs of Children Affected by Congenital Zika Syndrome

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      We have learned much about the short-term sequelae of congenital Zika virus (ZIKV) infection since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention activated its ZIKV emergency response in January 2016. Nevertheless, gaps remain in our understanding of the full spectrum of adverse health outcomes related to congenital ZIKV infection and how to optimize health in those who are affected. To address the remaining knowledge gaps, support affected children so they can reach their full potential, and make the best use of available resources, a carefully planned public health approach in partnership with pediatric health care providers is needed. An essential step is to use population-based data captured through surveillance systems to describe congenital Zika syndrome. Another key step is using collected data to investigate why some children exhibit certain sequelae during infancy and beyond, whereas others do not, and to describe the clustering of anomalies and the timing of when these anomalies occur, among other research questions. The final critical step in the public health framework for congenital Zika syndrome is an intervention strategy with evidence-based best practices for longer-term monitoring and care. Adherence to recommended evaluation and management procedures for infants with possible congenital ZIKV infection, including for those with less obvious developmental and medical needs at birth, is essential. It will take many years to fully understand the effects of ZIKV on those who are congenitally infected; however, the lifetime medical and educational costs as well as the emotional impact on affected children and families are likely to be substantial.
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