CDC: Zika Not Linked to Birth Defects

News: Life and Family
by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  •  June 28, 2016   

South American Doctors believe heavy use of larvicide is causing abnormalities

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ATLANTA ( - Two recent studies reported by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are failing to find a link between the Zika virus and the sudden increase in birth defects in South America since 2014.

The first study, published June 15 in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, is going against the prevailing opinion, held by various governments and emphasized by the media, all claiming the Zika virus is to blame for the fetal abnormality known as microcephaly, whereby babies are born with abnormally small heads.

"Preliminary surveillance data in Colombia suggest that maternal infection with the Zika virus during the third trimester of pregnancy is not linked to structural abnormalities in the fetus," the study, which involved pregnant mothers from Columbia infected with Zika, concludes.

"[D]ata from Colombia suggest that Zika virus infection during the third trimester of pregnancy is not linked to birth defects like microcephaly," a CDC spokesman said.

The spokesman also pointed to a second study published in May by the same journal that bolsters the growing evidence that women infected with Zika are highly unlikely to give birth to children with microcephaly.

Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, is saying causes of the birth defects other than viral are currently being researched. "A mother's environment may be an important part of the Zika virus puzzle," she explained. "We've included environmental measures in the study."

Doctors in Brazil and Argentina are pointing to larvicide as the cause of the recent surge in birth defects in Brazil. Starting from a single incident of microcephaly beginning in May of 2015 in Pernambuco, a town in northeastern Brazil, the number has now grown to 4,000 cases in this town alone, where a larvicide is widely used.

The Zika virus itself causes mild flu-like symptoms, and four out of five people infected never develop any symptoms. Nevertheless, massive campaigns have begun in multiple areas, including the United States, to spray for mosquitoes that may spread the Zika virus. This is reminiscent of the DDT spraying for mosquitos that took place decades ago, which was later linked to birth defects.

But a group of doctors from Argentina and Brazil have generated a detailed report concluding that the effects of a certain larvicide used in drinking water and not the Zika virus is the cause of the sudden rise in birth defects in the affected areas.

As noted in the report, although the Zika virus has affected up to 75 percent of the population in a "widespread epidemic in the Pacific and the current epidemic in Colombia," it has "resulted in no cases of malformations, much less microcephaly."

The report details how in the second half of 2014, the Brazilian Ministry of Health stopped using temephos, a larvicide to which the Aedes larvae became resistant, and switched to the larvicide Pyriproxyfen, commercially known as Sumilarv, and manufactured by Sumitomo Chemical, a Japanese company associated with Monsanto in Latin America.

Pyriproxyfen, which was recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), was applied directly by the Brazilian Ministry of Health for 18 months to drinking-water reservoirs used by the people of Pernambuco. Pyriproxyfen acts as a growth inhibitor of mosquito larvae, generating malformations in developing mosquitos.

The doctors relate that 60 percent of the active genes in humans are identical to those of insects targeted by this poison. The report attests the birth defects began to be reported after this larvicide was put into the drinking water in reservoirs around Pernambuco.

In the report, the doctors affirmed, "Malformations detected in thousands of children from pregnant women living in areas where the Brazilian state added pyriproxyfen to drinking water is not a coincidence, even though the Ministry of Health places a direct blame on Zika virus for this damage."

Doctors from the Brazilian Association for Collective Health are demanding that urgent epidemiological studies taking into account this causal link be carried out, "especially when among 3,893 cases of malformations confirmed until January 20, 2016, 49 children have died and only five of them were confirmed to have been infected with Zika."


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