On this trip, the team screened 91
infants whose mothers were positive for Zika when they were born. There were a
few infants that did have the phenotype of congenital Zika virus syndrome, but
we excitedly found that most did not exhibit microcephaly or vision and hearing
loss. There were a substantial number of infants who had some mild
developmental, speech, or motor delay, but we are unsure whether that was
caused by Zika virus exposure in utero or a result of families needing to focus
so much time and energy on hurricane recovery.
Children in the territory will need continued
visual, audiological, neurological and developmental support. Zero to Three, a family-based
child development program, will be used extensively for these children. Beyond the toddler years, they will need to
transition to alternative services. There are some adult specialists on the
islands willing to assist with follow-up, and some pediatric providers that
travel between the territory and the mainland to provide care. But these
patients, as well as many others in the territory, need more access to
pediatric care. We hope over time their provider list will continue to grow.
We plan to continue working with the
USVI Department of Health as doctors in the islands continue to evaluate and
support children and their developmental needs. The families we worked with were
happy to be able to receive medical care without traveling off island, leaving
their home regions and extended families.
The close-knit families who form the
backbone of the islands, no doubt, will play a big role in overcoming the
challenges the territory has faced these past couple years. I, for one, left
deeply grateful to play a small part in helping these families stay together as
they access care and support they need for their children.
Special Thanks To: Laura Aird, MS; Tracy Ambrose; James Bale, MD; Cara Biddle, MD, MPH, FAAP; Michelle S. Davis, DO, FAAP; O'Neill D'Cruz, MD; Roberta DeBiasi, MD, MS, FAAP; Sean Diederich; Esther Ellis, PhD; Nicole Fehrenbach, MPP; Romeo R. Galang, MD, MPH; Monica Halbert; Janney Hawley, RN; Braeanna Hillman, MD, FAAP; Ricky House; Amy Hudson; Cristie Jones, AuD, CCC-A; Ashley Kilpatrick, CCLS, SIMI; Nicola Kim, MD; Daniel Lattin, MD; Linda Lawrence, MD; Charmaine Mayers; Trevena Moore, MD, MPH, FAAP; Sarah Mulkey, MD, PhD; Mary Noe; Sarah Payne, MD; Derval Petersen, DHEd, MAOM; Grace Prakalapakorn, MD; Andra Prosper; Megan Reynolds; Dan Schoelles; Harris Short; Lessely Shuler-Brown, RN,MSN, MHSM,CLNC, CRN-C; V. Fan Tait, MD, FAAP; Yvonne Thomas; Deb Waldron, MD, MPH, FAAP.
The views expressed in this article are those of the authors, and not necessarily those of the American Academy of Pediatrics.