1 in 150 Children is Born with CMV--A Common Virus that Causes Disabilities
June 04, 2010
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 1 in every 150 children is born with congenital CMV. CMV is the most common congenital (meaning present at birth) infection in the United States and is the most common cause of birth defects and disabilities, including deafness, blindness, cerebral palsy, mental and physical disabilities, seizures, and death. CMV is a common virus, present in saliva, urine, tears, blood, and mucus, and is carried by 70 percent of healthy infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and children who contract the virus from their peers. About 60 percent of women are at risk for contracting CMV during pregnancy, posing a major risk to mothers, daycare workers, preschool teachers, therapists, and nurses.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the CDC recommend that OB/GYNs counsel women on basic prevention measures to guard against CMV infection. These include frequent hand washing, not kissing young children on the mouth, and not sharing food, towels, or utensils with them. "Stop CMV understands how difficult it may be to adjust ones daily routine while pregnant," says Janelle Greenlee, president and founder of Stop CMV and mother of twin daughters born with congenital CMV. "But it is so important for these messages to be communicated to pregnant women to inform and empower them to take a more active role in their personal hygiene and healthcare decisions."
A 2008 survey reported that only 14 percent of women had heard of congenital CMV, with very few aware of prevention measures. Women's awareness of CMV ranks last among other birth defects and common childhood illnesses despite CMV being one of the most common and most serious causes of birth defects and disabilities. The CDC reports incidence of congenital CMV as similar to that of Autism (1 in 150), and higher than Down Syndrome (1 in 3,357), Spina Bifida (1 in 2,500), and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (1.5 in 1,000).
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