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CMV: Every Pregnant Woman Should Know About This Virus

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Congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) is the most common virus that most people haven't heard of.

Most every one will catch CMV at some time in their life and never know they have it.

If a woman gets CMV for the first time while she is pregnant, she can be in a potentially dangerous situation. CMV infects almost 1 out of every 100 newborns in the country and is the most common congenital infection.

The virus is passed to the unborn baby from the mother and can cause serious complications in the newborn, like platelet problems, liver disease, and lung disease. It can also cause long-term effects on hearing, vision, growth, and development by invading the brain, eyes, and ears.

What makes CMV even more dangerous is that most people, including pregnant women, have never heard of CMV. And, since CMV does not cause a rash like its cousin chicken pox, you do not know who is infected and shedding the CMV.

The good news is, CMV infection is potentially preventable.

If a pregnant woman is aware of CMV, she can take simple hygienic precautions to reduce her exposure to the virus. Toddlers are a "hot zone" for CMV, and by slightly modifying your behavior while pregnant, you can reduce your risk of catching this silent virus.

CMV is present in saliva and urine, so...

  1. Do not share food or drink with your toddler — no more "one for mommy one for baby" mealtime games while you're pregnant.
  2. Do not kiss your toddler on the lips or cheek, rather hug them and give them a loving kiss on the top of the head while you're pregnant.
  3. Wash your hands carefully after changing diapers and wiping your toddler's nose and face.

An ounce of CMV awareness and 3 simple hygienic precautions while you're pregnant are all it takes to save your unborn baby from a potentially devastating infection.


Dr. Demmler-HarrisonDr. Gail Demmler-Harrison presented on September 27, 2014 at the CMV - Cytomegalovirus Public Health Policy Conference at the Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah during a topical session on use of social media to increase CMV awareness. For more information, visit here. Title: Global Response to CMV Awareness Through a Pediatric Hospital Blog Website.

The session was well received with many interesting and thoughtful questions from the audience. The conference brought together scientists, health care professionals, parents, non profit organizations, policy makers and legislators to discuss ways to increase CMV awareness, education, funding, and support about ways that are available to prevent CMV infections in pregnancy and treat congenital CMV infection in the fetus and newborn.