Few women of child-bearing age realize that plain old soap and water can prevent the #1 viral cause of birth defects, congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV). And, women also need to know that they shouldn't kiss their toddlers around the mouth.
Although CMV causes more birth defects than Down syndrome, more than half of OB/GYNs surveyed admitted they don't routinely caution their patients how to avoid the virus. Women who care for young children are at a greater risk for catching CMV because preschool children are the majority of the carriers. Although it is usually harmless to healthy individuals, it can be devastating to a developing fetus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
Every hour, congenital CMV causes one child to become disabled
Each year, about 30,000 children are born with congenital CMV infection
About 1 in 750 children is born with or develops permanent disabilities due to CMV (See http://www.cdc.gov/cmv/)
In order to reduce the spread of CMV infection, women of childbearing age should refrain from kissing their children around the mouth, sharing food and utensils with them, and they must wash hands their hands diligently with soap and water after wiping runny noses, changing diapers, etc. The CDC states: “If soap and running water are not available, you may use alcohol-based hand gel.” For alcohol-based hand sanitizers to be effective, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends a concentration of 60% to 95% ethanol or isopropanol.
In an effort to warn those who have never heard of congenital CMV, I wrote a light-hearted memoir about my daughter’s life with her lazy, old devoted canine, called, “Anything But a Dog! The perfect pet for a girl with congenital CMV.” It raises funds for CMV research and parent support if purchased through the Registry at www.unlimitedpublishing.com/cmv About.com reviewed Anything But a Dog! saying, "Sheds light on a disorder that is preventable and not talked about enough…If you're an animal lover, you'll love the critter tales as much as the special-needs storyline…really lifted my spirits." To read an excerpt, visit: http://anythingbutadog.blogspot.com/
Please tell everyone about CMV and don’t forget to wash your hands! If you would like to meet moms whose children were born with CMV infection or pick up handouts about CMV prevention, there will be a CMV Awareness table set up at Adventureland Amusement Park on Long Island this Saturday, May 16. If you want to know more about that, visit Lynn Pickus's blog about it at: http://cmvadventureland.blogspot.com/