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Prelim results for microcephaly study to be released next week

Published:Friday | October 14, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Preliminary results from a government study that is expected to provide more information on the state of microcephaly in Jamaica is expected to be available next week Friday.

Microcephaly is a condition in which babies are born with abnormally small heads.

The condition has many causes, but its link with the mosquito-borne Zika virus has triggered public concerns.

Yesterday, Dr Karen Webster, head of epidemiology in the health ministry, disclosed that since January 1, Jamaica has had three cases of the condition, none of which has been linked to Zika.

She said the results of the study, which involves babies born between August and December 2013, will help to give a more accurate figure of the estimated number of microcephaly cases.

It is estimated that about 2.1 per cent of a population will have microcephaly, and Webster said current data show that 777 babies will be born with the condition.

"However, some say that this might be an overestimation of the number of microcephaly that we will see. The data we have currently in-house speak to the hospital admissions. It is not speaking to babies who would have been seen in the outpatient department. The results [of the study] will give a better idea of what are Jamaica's figures," she said.

The health ministry, Dr Webster said, is also working with the University of the West Indies on two other studies to get more accurate figures.

Up to last Friday, the ministry said 41 pregnant women were laboratory confirmed for Zika, with another 582 suspected.