Feds Fund New Registry for Babies Suffering From Zika-Related Microcephaly

PHOTO: Aedes aegypti mosquitoes to be tested for various diseases perch inside a container at the Gorgas Memorial Laboratory in Panama City, Feb. 4, 2016.Arnulfo Franco/AP Photo
Aedes aegypti mosquitoes to be tested for various diseases perch inside a container at the Gorgas Memorial Laboratory in Panama City, Feb. 4, 2016.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced new funds to create a registry aimed at helping babies born with microcephaly, the birth defect stemming from mothers contracting the Zika virus.

The $16 million, funded from the previously re-appropriated Ebola funds, is to help quickly notify families of resources, while helping to create a way to monitor and track developmental outcomes of the children impacted by the serious birth defect, characterized by an abnormally small head and brain, leading to significant developmental problems.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell told ABC News the purpose of the funds going to 40 states is to help connect the families to services and information.

"It will go to each of the states and the states will have programs in terms of both tracking and making sure the information is coming in, as well as figuring out ways that those states are going to support those parents," she explained. "It's also important for some of the babies -- understanding what the microcephaly will look like over a period of time is very important to better understanding the disease. So, the babies will then be tracked in terms of developmental milestones and other things."

Microcephaly has a wide range of associated symptoms, depending on the condition's severity. Researchers expect there to be a spectrum of other issues stemming from Zika-infected pregnancies.

"There are many unknowns in terms of when women may get it during their pregnancy," Burwell said. "We want to learn as much as we can as quickly as we can, as well as make sure we support those families of microcephaly children."

There have been 13 cases in the U.S. where babies have been born to a mother infected with the Zika virus contracted overseas, but Burwell said health officials expect more over time.

The 40 states and territories receiving the funding are: Alabama, New Hampshire, American Samoa, New Jersey, Arizona, New Mexico, California, New York, Connecticut, North Carolina, Florida, Northern Mariana, Georgia, Ohio, Guam, Oklahoma, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Puerto Rico, Indiana, Rhode, Iowa, South Carolina, Kansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Texas, Louisiana, Utah, Maryland, Vermont, Massachusetts, Virginia, Minnesota, Virgin Islands, Mississippi, West Virginia, Missouri and Wisconsin.

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