Are you carrying a deadly virus that can hurt your baby?

November 08, 2011 by

Most of us have read all there is to know about protecting our babies, but here's one health issue you may have never heard of – cytomegalovirus. Of course, many women who have cytomegalovirus (CMV) never experience any symptoms and are generally unaware that they are carrying the disease, but the congenital version of it could leave a baby with a variety of medical complications.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that more disabilities result from congenital CMV than fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), spina bifida and pediatric HIV/AIDS. However, a clinical study led by the CDC found that barely one-fifth of women in the U.S. know what CMV is, while 83 percent are familiar with FAS and 98 percent have heard of HIV/AIDS.

The American Pregnancy Association notes that more than half of adults 40 years or older carry CMV, which remains in an individual's body for years similar to the herpes virus. Unfortunately, here's the bad news – pregnant moms who are infected can transfer the virus to their baby. The condition is spread through bodily fluids, and adults who are frequently exposed to young children are at the highest risk of contracting the disease.

Expectant mothers and women who are planning to get pregnant are advised to wash their hands frequently (especially after interacting with young children), avoid sharing eating utensils, washcloths or toothbrushes and get tested for CMV if they have symptoms such as a fever, swollen glands or lethargy.  It may sound extreme – but it's all for the health of your baby!

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