Evaluation and monitoring of eye findings in children exposed to Zika virus during gestation: 3 years of follow-up

J Trop Pediatr. 2023 Sep 7;69(5):fmad030. doi: 10.1093/tropej/fmad030.


Introduction: Congenital Zika syndrome (CZS) is a recently described disease. Our main objective was to evaluate and monitor, over 3 years, the ophthalmoscopic findings in children exposed to zika virus (ZIKV) during gestation.

Methods: This prospective observational study was conducted in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, between April 2016 and May 2019. We evaluated two groups with exanthema serving as a proxy for viremia: (i) children whose mothers had exanthema during pregnancy and (ii) children who had microcephaly without maternal exanthema during pregnancy. We performed indirect ophthalmoscopy at recruitment and every 6 months thereafter. We also tested the association between ocular findings with maternal exanthema, microcephaly, CZS and maternal infection confirmed by reverse transcriptase quantitative polymerase chain reaction and gender.

Results: Of the 72 children included, 16 (22.2%) had optic nerve and/or retinal lesions. All 16 had CZS and 15 (93.7%) had microcephaly (14 at birth and 1 postnatally). The child with postnatally acquired microcephaly was born to a mother without exanthema during pregnancy. Fifty-six (77.8%) of the 72 children were followed for a median time of 24 months and none exhibited differences between admission and follow-up examinations. After logistic regression, only microcephaly at birth was associated with eye abnormalities (odds ratio, 77.015; 95% confidence interval, 8.85-670.38; p < 0.001).

Conclusion: We observed that there was no progression of the lesions over the follow-up period. We also showed that the eye findings were associated only with microcephaly at birth. Attention should be paid to all children born during a ZIKV epidemic, regardless of maternal exanthema and/or microcephaly at birth.

Keywords: Zika; congenital Zika syndrome; exanthema; eye; optic nerve; retina.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Exanthema* / etiology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Microcephaly* / epidemiology
  • Mothers
  • Pregnancy
  • Zika Virus Infection* / diagnosis
  • Zika Virus Infection* / epidemiology
  • Zika Virus* / genetics