Did you know one in every 200 babies is born with cytomegalovirus or CMV? Here’s what you need to know about the common infection.
June is National Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Awareness Month.
What is Cytomegalovirus?
Cytomegalovirus is a very common virus. While both adults and children can contract it, it is the most common infectious cause of birth defects according to the CDC. A healthy immune system is able to fight off the virus in adults and many do not know they were infected. Problems occur when pregnant women come in contact with cytomegalovirus and pass it on to their babies.
How Does Congenital CMV pass to my baby?
A pregnant mother can unknowingly pass CMV to her unborn child. In most cases, mothers who handle and care for small children are most at risk. By five years old, one in three children is infected with CMV. Consequently, the virus is present in a child’s system for months after infection. While the child might show zero symptoms of CMV, they are still able to pass the virus along to pregnant women. The virus then crosses the placenta and infects the unborn baby.
How Do I Know If My Baby has Congenital CMV?
There are several symptoms of congenital cytomegalovirus healthcare providers and parents might observe at birth. These include:
- A small head size or enlarged spleen and liver
- Rash or jaundice
- Low birth weight or seizure
Additionally, children might be affected down the road with long-term health problems including hearing loss, vision loss, seizures, and some developmental & motor delays.
The SCCAA Community Actions Pathway HUB is an available resource for pregnant and new mothers in need of support, education, and community services. For more information on cytomegalovirus and other risks for pregnant women, visit https://www.cdc.gov/cmv/fact-sheets/parents-pregnant-women.html.