UNDERSTANDING CONGENITAL CMV: THE SILENT THREAT
During a recent informal poll among our staff, we realized that many, like a broader segment of the population, were unfamiliar with Congenital Cytomegalovirus (CMV).
We learned that only 9% of women know about CMV and it is the most common viral infection and leading non-genetic cause of hearing loss of infants born in the United States!
This highlights just how much about child health is still to be shared and learned together!
Surprising Numbers of Congenital CMV
UNDERSTANDING CONGENITAL CMV: THE SILENT THREAT
There is so much about child health to be shared and learned together! For the well-being of our little ones, let’s explore the nuances of Congenital CMV, its implications and the steps we can collaboratively take for prevention.
During a recent informal poll among our staff, we realized that many, like a broader segment of the population, were unfamiliar with Congenital Cytomegalovirus (CMV). We learned that only 9% of women know about CMV and it is the most common viral infection and leading non-genetic cause of hearing loss of infants born in the United States!
This highlights just how much about child health is still to be shared and learned together! Our staff was made aware of Congenital CMV through our Foundation board member, Dr. Emma Mohr, a pediatric infectious disease physician who specializes in caring for children with complicated infections.
While illnesses like measles or chickenpox often find their way into common conversations, the equally significant Congenital CMV often doesn’t. When we share resources and education, we always emphasize that education is not about blame; it’s an invitation to grow our collective understanding. For the well-being of our little ones, let’s explore the nuances of Congenital CMV, its implications and the steps we can collaboratively take for prevention.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common virus related to the herpes family. While it can affect individuals of all age groups, it’s termed Congenital CMV when a mother passes it to her unborn baby during pregnancy.
For adults and children with a strong immune system, CMV might present mild symptoms or even none at all. However, the implications can be severe when an unborn baby contracts it. are often utilized for frequently asked questions (FAQs).
Children born with Congenital CMV can exhibit a range of symptoms. Some might show no immediate symptoms, but over time they can develop hearing loss, vision problems, intellectual disabilities, seizures or even cerebral palsy. Hearing loss is the most common symptom.
In more severe cases, babies can present with symptoms right from birth, including premature birth, jaundice, enlarged liver and spleen, low birth weight and more.
Again, it’s also worth noting that many children with Congenital CMV may appear healthy at birth but can develop health problems over time, making early detection and intervention crucial.
Pregnant women who contract a primary CMV infection during pregnancy are at the highest risk of passing the virus to their unborn child. Women who work with young children or those with toddlers in daycare (where CMV is more common) are at an increased risk, as children can shed the virus in their urine or saliva for months once infected.
You can get CMV by having direct contact with body fluids from a person who is infected with CMV. Body fluids that can contain CMV include:
- Breast milk
- Vaginal fluids
While there’s no foolproof method to prevent CMV infection, certain actions can reduce the risk:
Regular hand washing, especially after changing diapers, feeding children or wiping noses. Carefully throw away used diapers and tissues.
- Avoid contact with tears or saliva
If you’re pregnant, kiss babies and children on the cheek or head, instead of lips.
- Avoid Sharing:
Refrain from sharing food, utensils, drinks or straws with young children. Don’t put a baby’s pacifier in your mouth.
- Clean Toys and Surfaces:
Regularly clean toys, countertops, and any surfaces that come into contact with child’s urine or saliva.
Considering the significant impact of Congenital CMV, it’s puzzling why it isn’t more commonly discussed.
A few reasons for this include: (Can we or should we expand on lack of awareness??)
- Mild Symptoms in Adults:
Since CMV often causes mild or no symptoms in adults, many don’t even realize they’ve been infected. (e.g. mild mononucleosis, fatigue, fever, sore throat and other cold/flu symptoms)
- Overlapping Symptoms:
Symptoms of Congenital CMV in infants can overlap with other conditions, sometimes leading to misdiagnosis or under diagnosis.
- Lack of Routine Screening:
Unlike some other conditions, routine screening for CMV is not standard practice for all pregnant people.
Congenital CMV is a significant concern, especially for expectant mothers and those planning to start a family.
While Congenital CMV remains lesser known, understanding its implications, practicing prevention, and spreading awareness can greatly reduce its impact on our youngest, most vulnerable populations. For more resources on Congenital CMV, visit the CDC CMV page or the CMV Foundation.
For other resources and support to help lower the risk of birth defects, visit healthier-tomorrow.org.