I'm a former licensed childcare provider who, like many across the U.S., never heard of my occupational risk for CMV, the #1 birth defects virus. To save time after changing diapers, many childcare providers use diaper wipes to remove urine from hands and surfaces, but diaper wipes do not kill CMV.
The March of Dimes states, “As many as 7 in 10 children (70 percent) between 1 and 3 years of age who go to day care may have CMV. They can pass it on to their families, caretakers and other children.”
Every year, 8 - 20% of caregivers/teachers contract CMV, which is understandable given that approximately 44 - 100% of two-year-olds in group daycare are excreting CMV (Pass et al., 1986).
In a recent survey, only 18.5% of licensed “in-home” daycare providers have heard of CMV (Thackeray et al., 2016). CMV in childcare is a very "inconvenient truth" and many in the industry are afraid to alarm their workers. However, a few states such as Utah and countries including Germany and Queensland, Australia, have worked out a protocol to protect their childcare workers.
It is a worker’s right to know occupational hazards, yet very few childcare providers have been counseled about CMV in accordance with the recommendations made by the American Academy of Pediatrics in the book, Caring For Our Children, which states, "child care staff members should be counseled about risks. This counseling may include testing for serum antibody to CMV to determine the child care provider's protection against primary CMV infection..."
To protect the unborn children of childcare providers and those who use their services, I published the book, Help Childcare Providers Fight CMV. People can contact me at LisaSaunders42[at]gmail.com if they would like a FREE 133-page pdf version of it, or they can purchase the bound paperback for $6.99 on Amazon for distribution to those who care for children.
The book provides a toolkit of resources to educate childcare providers about CMV with a sample protocol and links to public health flyers such as the CDC's CMV prevention tips. It also includes my fairytale "Once Upon a Placement: A Table Setting Tale," with "color-me-in" images to reach the whole family on how to "share a meal, not the germs!"
Founder, "Help Childcare Providers Fight CMV" Project
Parent rep, Congenital Cytomegalovirus Foundation
Note: These CMV-related paperback books by Lisa Saunders are not free, but are available on Amazon:
- Anything But a Dog! The perfect pet for a girl with congenital CMV
- Surviving Loss: The Woodcutter’s Tale.
- Once Upon a Placemat: A Table Setting Tale
- Help Childcare Providers Fight CMV
The mission of the Help Childcare Providers Fight CMV project is to educate U.S. women who care for toddlers on how to reduce the spread of CMV to protect their pregnancies until the medical community makes doing so a “standard of care,” the U.S. government passes a law requiring CMV education, or an effective vaccine becomes available.
The Help Childcare Providers Fight CMV project disseminates materials to daycare directors, families, and policy makers. CMV prevention education is accomplished through workshops, public service announcements, health fairs, books, and writing articles such as, "The Danger of Spreading CMV: How We Can Protect Our Children" published by ChildCare Aware of America (2017).
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP
- Find out what your state is doing to protect childcare providers and the mothers who use their services: childcareaware.org/providers.
- Childcare unions across the country seem willing to educate their members about CMV (but they also need this information in Spanish so that is why I included Spanish resources above). State health departments may also decide to help if reached with the information. You can help your state by providing folks with flyers found on your state’s medical or childcare licensing sites plus you will want to send them the new one found on the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/cmv/downloads/pregnant-patients-cmv.pdf and those at the National CMV Foundation website at https://www.nationalcmv.org/resources.aspx.
- Ask your state government to pass a law to battle CMV. Learn how at the National CMV Foundation webpage: https://www.nationalcmv.org/cmv-research/legislation.aspx
- “Like” my CMV in Childcare Facebook page to keep up to date at: www.facebook.com/CMVinChildCare
- Connecticut became the second state in U.S. to require CMV testing when an infant fails the hearing test.
- The MotherToBaby.org Education Committee updated their CMV fact sheet to add a question specific to occupational exposure.
- Henry the Hand Foundation ran a CMV prevention campaign during April’s National Public Health Week.
- Child Care Aware published article on CMV prevention
- Connecticut Office of Early Childhood’s Division of Licensing for Child Care Providers/Operators now includes “Congenital Cytomegalovirus” under “Disease and Prevention” on its website, though my goal is for CMV prevention to be included in the required training for licensing.
- Interviewed health and wellness experts about CMV on “The Lisa Saunders Show” (SEC-TV, channel 12 and YouTube).
- Coordinating the planning and delivery of CMV information through press releases, newsletters, Facebook: CMV in Child Care and Congenital CMV News; educational campaigns through workshops, televised public service announcements, health fairs; and creating behavior change programs such as “Share a Meal, Not the Germs!” and “Keep Your Cups to Yourself."
STATE CMV MATERIALS
New York based health websites provide CMV information:
- Pregnant women working in child care facilities should minimize direct exposure to saliva…Hugging is fine and is not a risk factor, (NY Dept. of Health). This NYC website states: "Pregnant women working in child care facilities should minimize direct exposure to saliva and avoid kissing babies or young children on the mouth." Find that comment at: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/
CSEA in Albany, AFCME, 518-257-1000
Tammie Miller, Chapter Chair
About Lisa Saunders
- Anything But a Dog! The perfect pet for a girl with congenital CMV (Unlimited Publishing 2008, Japan, 2017). Memoir.
- Surviving Loss: The Woodcutter’s Tale. Fairytale about losing a child to an illness and how to find a way to move forward.
- Once Upon a Placemat: A Table Setting Tale (2016). "Grandma" uses Miss Cup to teach germ prevention and Mr. Knife's fear the dish will run away with the spoon to teach table-setting.
- Help Childcare Providers Fight CMV: Protect Newborns from #1 Birth Defects Virus (2018)