PLoS Currents: Outbreaks
[Accessed 25 February 2017]
Does Zika Virus Cause Microcephaly – Applying the Bradford Hill Viewpoints
February 22, 2017 · Research Article
Introduction: Zika virus has been documented since 1952, but been associated with mild, self-limiting disease. Zika virus is classified as an arbovirus from a family of Flaviviridae and primarily spread by Aedes Aegypti mosquitos. However, in a large outbreak in Brazil in 2015, Zika virus has been associated with microcephaly.
Methods: In this review we applied the Bradford-Hill viewpoints to investigate the association between Zika virus and microcephaly. We examined historical studies, available data and also compared historical rates of microcephaly prior to the Zika virus outbreak. The available evidence was reviewed against the Bradford Hill viewpoints.
Results: All the nine criteria were met to varying degrees: strength of association, consistency of the association, specificity, temporality, plausibility, coherence, experimental evidence, biological gradient and analogy.
Conclusion: Using the Bradford Hill Viewpoints as an evaluation framework for causation is highly suggestive that the association between Zika virus and microcephaly is causal. Further studies using animal models on the viewpoints which were not as strongly fulfilled would be helpful.