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Revealed: Zika’s damage to babies’ brains more extensive than microcephaly

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A report released on Tuesday shows in graphic detail the kind of damage Zika infections can do to the developing brain – damage that goes well beyond the devastating birth defect known as microcephaly, in which the baby’s head is smaller than normal.

The current Zika outbreak was first detected last year in Brazil, where the virus has been linked to more than 1,800 cases of microcephaly, which can cause severe developmental problems.

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Prior research has shown the Zika virus attacks neural progenitor cells – a type of stem cell that develops into different types of nerve or brain cells.

The latest research, published in the journal Radiology, draws from imaging and autopsy findings linked with confirmed Zika infections done on 17 infants and fetuses cared for at the Instituto de Pesquisa, in Campina Grande in the state of Paraiba in northeastern Brazil, where the infection has been especially severe.

The study also included reports on 28 fetuses or newborns with brain anomalies whose mothers were suspected of having Zika during pregnancy.

Nearly all babies in each group had ventriculomegaly, a condition in which the ventricles, or fluid-filled spaces in the brain, are enlarged.

While most of the fetuses had at least one exam showing abnormally small head circumference, suggesting they had microcephaly, three of the fetuses with ventriculomegaly had normal head circumference, but severe ventriculomegaly.

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Nearly all of the fetuses or babies in the confirmed Zika group and nearly 80 percent of those in the presumed Zika group also had abnormalities of the corpus callosum – a large bundle of nerves that facilitates communication between the left and right hemispheres of the brain.

In all but one of the cases studied, the researchers found instances in which developing neurons did not travel to their proper destination in the brain.

In many cases, the babies’ skulls seemed to have collapsed on themselves, with overlapping tissues and abnormal skin folds suggestive of a brain that had stopped growing.

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“From an imaging standpoint, the abnormalities in the brain are very severe when compared to other congenital infections,” said study co-author Dr. Deborah Levine of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and a radiology professor at Harvard Medical School.

As with other reports, the paper suggests that Zika does the most harm in the first trimester of pregnancy. The researchers plan to keep following the cases to see what impact prenatal Zika infections have on future brain development.

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There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika, which is a close cousin of dengue and chikungunya and causes mild fever, rash and red eyes. An estimated 80 percent of people infected have no symptoms, making it difficult for pregnant women to know whether they have been infected.

Zika is carried by mosquitoes, which transmit the virus to humans. A small number of cases of sexual transmission have been reported in the United States and elsewhere.

(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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Republicans are treating voters like ‘children’ with their defense of Trump: Ex-presidential adviser

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On Thursday's edition of CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," former presidential adviser David Gergen laid into Republican lawmakers for claiming that the impeachment probe is only based on "hearsay."

"The Republicans are treating us like idiots," said Gergen. "They just — they say you're only bringing forth hearsay. You don't have any firsthand information. We know there are three people who know exactly what happened. One is named [Rudy] Giuliani. One is chief of staff [Mick] Mulvaney and the third is [John] Bolton. And what's happened here? They all three have been called. The president said no, you must not talk. So the Republicans then come up and say, well, you only have hearsay."

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Roger Stone’s health in question as prosecutors have him ‘dead to rights’: NBC reporter

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Jurors deciding the fate of longtime Donald Trump political advisor Roger Stone did not reach a verdict during their deliberations on Thursday and will reconvene on Friday morning.

But there were fascinating details from the courtroom revealed by NBC News correspondent Ken Dilanian.

"What about Roger Stone, does he look like he’s about to burn here?" MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews asked. "Does he look like he’s going down?"

"He does," Dilanian replied.

"And also, physically, he doesn't look well at this trial. He’s walking around the courthouse kind of unaccompanied, shambling around," he continued. "He doesn't look like a happy warrior, which is usually his persona."

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GOP lawmaker smacked down after suggesting impeachment is only for capital crimes

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On Thursday's edition of MSNBC's "All In," Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) tried to argue that impeachment is only intended for when presidents commit capital crimes — and was immediately corrected by anchor Chris Hayes.

"I saw an earlier interview you gave to Chuck Todd where you didn’t think this was, so far, from what you’ve heard of, the level of impeachable behavior," said Hayes. "I’m curious what you view the standard as the Constitution sets out for you as being high crimes and treason and misdemeanor."

"Crimes that are subject to the penalty of death is essentially what the Constitution is to me indicating with impeachment," said Reed. "And this whole claim of bribery, the American people aren’t stupid, Chris. This is not going to sustain the review of the American people, and they’re the ultimate ones who are going to judge this because I don’t see this becoming an impeachable subject to the removal of the president."

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