Congenital Zika syndrome causes a spectrum of neurological symptoms with varying effects on function that require different therapeutic strategies. To date, this spectrum of effects and its clinical implications have not been completely described. We describe the neurological examination findings in toddlers and preschoolers, including predominant symptom complexes and comorbidities.
This study is a case-series neurological evaluation of 75 children with congenital Zika syndrome in Campina Grande, Brazil. The study is part of a cohort of children with congenital Zika syndrome that started in 2015 and is still ongoing. Children with Zika virus infection detected during pregnancy (mothers exhibited rash and were followed and diagnosed by fetal ultrasound abnormalities or RT-PCR) or through microcephaly screening after birth, using Intergrowth 21 guidelines, were selected by laboratory and radiological criteria. Children were examined during a 10-day period in September, 2018, and underwent neurological interview, examination, and assessment of functional outcomes and comorbidities. Children were divided in groups of predominant corticospinal or neuromuscular clinical signs and the associations between these groups and clinical comorbidities were assessed.
All of the children recruited to the study from Nov 29, 2015 to Nov 30, 2017 had imaging correlates of congenital Zika syndrome. Children were assigned to groups depending on the signs exhibited, either corticospinal or neuromuscular, with or without dyskinetic signs. 75 children completed the evaluation, 38 (51%) girls and 37 (49%) boys. Median age was 33 months (range 26-40 months; IQR 29-34). Microcephaly was present at birth in 56 (75%) children, and 19 (25%) children were born with normal head circumference, 15 of whom later developed microcephaly. Neurological examination grouped four children as having isolated dyskinetic signs, 48 children were assigned to the corticospinal group and 23 into the neuromuscular group. Dyskinetic findings were present in 30 (40%) children, either alone (four [5%]) or combined with corticospinal (19 [40%] of 48) or neuromuscular (seven [30%] of 23) findings. Comorbidities were highly prevalent, and the neuromuscular group had worse functional outcomes, evaluated by gross motor function (p=0·026), manual abilities (p=0·0013), and communication function (p<0·0005) classification scales, than the corticospinal group, whereas pneumonia (p<0·0005) and urinary tract infections (p<0·0005) were more frequent in the corticospinal group. Cortical hyperexcitability was supported by several clinical correlates, such as early onset epilepsy, persistence of primitive reflexes, and dystonia.
We describe distinct neurological profiles in the congenital Zika syndrome spectrum, with functional outcomes tending to correlate with these groups. The clinical division of children based on the disease signs proposed here is supported by the literature on central and peripheral nervous system pathology in congenital Zika syndrome. The high prevalence of dyskinetic symptoms merits special attention.
Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development and by the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel.

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