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Association and Causality:
In 2016, the mosquito-borne Zika virus was determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to cause microcephaly (smaller than average head size) along with other severe fetal brain defects in babies whose mothers contracted the disease while pregnant. It is important to understand the process by which the CDC reached this conclusion.
Please read the following article: Rasmussen, S. A., Jamieson, D. J., Honein, M. A., & Peterson, L. R. (2016). Zika virus and birth defects—Reviewing the evidence for causality. New England Journal of Medicine, 374 (20). https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMsr1604338
Determine which of the criteria discussed in this chapter apply to deciding whether the Zika virus causes microcephaly. State how you would determine whether this is simply an association or if there is evidence for a causal relationship. Why would establishing a causal relationship be important to public health efforts aimed at preventing Zika infections?
Hint – you might wish to create a table with the Considerations for Causation (found beginning on page 22 in the text), with the evidence in the middle column, and then are the Criteria Met? in the 3rd column. This will help all students to ensure they cover all the required criteria and make it easier to follow.
Don’t forget to answer ALL the questions asked above in the paragraph beginning with “Determine which”.
Please be specific and provide references from the CDC site or any other reputable site you might find. Please include a working URL so I can check the reference if needed.
In a couple of sentences, what is your “take-home” point for this week. What have you learned? In contrast, is there any area that is still “muddy” for you?