Thursday, November 4, 2010

CMV precautions

Severe birth defects and/or disabilities can result when a pregnant mother is infected with CMV (cytomegalovirus).

"Congenital CMV occurs when the virus is transmitted across the placenta to an unborn baby. CMV is most likely to cause damage to the unborn baby when the mother is infected for the first time during her pregnancy. This is called primary infection.

However, it is possible for damage to occur if a mother was infected for the first time before pregnancy but has a CMV reactivation or is infected with a different strain of CMV during pregnancy.

Congenital CMV is one of the most common causes of birth defects and developmental disabilities. Many people are surprised to hear that congenital CMV is as common a cause of disability as other, better-known conditions such as Down syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome, or spina bifida.

Children with congenital CMV may have hearing loss, vision loss, developmental or intellectual disability, small head size, and cerebral palsy.

To reduce exposures, pregnant women should wash their hands frequently, especially after changing diapers, cleaning runny noses, or engaging in other activities that lead to contact with saliva or urine. During pregnancy, women should also avoid sharing food, drink, or utensils with young children.

Although it may not be possible to avoid all exposures to CMV, any risk reduction efforts that women make could help. Women can be reassured that CMV does not spread easily. Normal, close contact with young children should not be a concern for a pregnant woman provided that care is taken to avoid getting children's saliva or urine in her eyes, nose, or mouth.

Preventive measures should be practiced by all pregnant women regardless of CMV status." (Dr. Mike Cannon, epidemiologist with the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at CDC)

Using regular, common-sense good hygiene practices can greatly reduce your risk of contracting CMV in pregnancy so don't forget to wash your hands often and keep hand sanitizer handy for "no water available" moments!

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