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Miami Mother Copes With Zika-Related Effects In Newborn

Author: Lauren Pastrana

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Maria Mendoza is your typical doting new mom.

She gives her baby plenty of attention, and so do her doctors.

That’s because Mendoza’s daughter, Micaela, was born with health issues related to the Zika virus.

Seven-week-old Micaela has scarring on her retina and calcifications on her brain.

Doctors say Zika is to blame.

Zika 101: Prevent Spread By Protecting Yourself

Mendoza was infected when she was three months pregnant.

“I cried a lot,” she said. “One always thinks the worst is going to happen because you don’t know what part of the brain was damaged.”

Mendoza contracted Zika in Venezuela and gave birth in Miami.

Dr. Marcelo Laufer, an infectious disease specialist at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, has evaluated Micaela.

“She has cerebral calcifications, which are pieces of calcifying tissue in the brain, which means at some point that part of the brain was infected,” he said.

Micaela was eventually cared for and treated at UHealth.

Every day, Micaela’s mother does physical therapy with her, to make sure she develops good muscle tone.

She said the doctors are optimistic that with therapy and constant monitoring, Micaela will be fine, but they’ll have to monitor her for effects of the infection for years.

CBS News has learned 69 pregnant women in Florida have the Zika virus, but state health officials aren’t saying if those infections were contracted locally or while traveling abroad.

Miami mother-to-be Christina Frigo isn’t taking any chances.

“I was just terrified,” she told CBS4’s sister station WBBM in Chicago.

So, at 32 weeks pregnant, Frigo and her husband uprooted their lives in South Florida to ride out the rest of her pregnancy more than a thousand miles away in Chicago, at Frigo’s mom’s house.

Frigo says one pregnant friend thought she was overreacting.

“She was surprised to hear that I was taking such a drastic step,” she said. “She’s on her way to Boston right now.”

Both Frigo and her husband tested negative for the virus.

While not everyone can just pack up and leave, Mendoza says expectant mothers should be taking extra precautions.

“I would say to them to not leave their homes because it’s a situation that’s impossible to cope with,” she said. “It’s an anguish that will keep you awake.”

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