I’m Lisa Saunders, a former licensed child care provider who was unaware of my occupational risk for contracting cytomegalovirus (CMV) until after my daughter was born with a severely damaged brain from congenital CMV.
If you won an award for investigative journalism, that would raise awareness even more: https://gijn.org/investigative-journalism-awards/
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “About one out of every 200 babies is born with congenital CMV infection...about one in five babies with congenital CMV infection will be sick from the virus or have long-term health problems...A pregnant woman can pass CMV to her unborn baby…This can happen when a pregnant woman is infected with CMV for the first time, or is infected with CMV again during pregnancy.” Every year, congenital CMV (cCMV) causes disability in an estimated 4,000 babies in the U.S. (4 million annual births/200 born with cCMV/5 sick or long-term health problems = 4,000 disabled by cCMV).
CMV is often spread by toddlers--especially those in a group care setting--to each other, their child care providers and families. Mothers of young children in group care are also at increased risk for contracting CMV (Pass et al., 1986) and are unaware of this. Sixty one percent “of children under the age of 5 are cared for in a child care facility” (Thackeray and Magnusson, 2016).
I have embedded links in this email to direct you to my sources.
2) In most states (with the exception of Utah and recently, Idaho), child care centers are not required by law to ensure workers know their occupational risk for CMV despite the fact that in the U.S., workers have the right to “receive information and training about hazards” (Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970). "Up to 70% of children ages 1 to 3 years in group care settings excrete the virus...With regard to child-to-staff transmission, studies have shown increased rates of infection with CMV in caregivers/teachers ranging from 8% to 20%” (Caring for Our Children, American Academy of Pediatrics, et al, revised 2017). There are 562,420 child care workers in the U.S.(Dept. of Labor, 2017). Find your state's child care licensing programs: http://childcareaware.org/resources/map/
From the CDC--You May Be Able to Reduce Your Risk for CMV: “The saliva and urine of children with CMV have high amounts of the virus. You can avoid getting a child’s saliva in your mouth by, for example, not sharing food, utensils, or cups with a child. Also, you should wash your hands after changing diapers. These cannot eliminate your risk of getting CMV, but may lessen the chances of getting it” ("Congenital CMV Facts for Pregnant Women and Parents" flyer at: cdc.gov/cmv).
Congenital CMV remains little-known in the U.S. for several reasons:
Examples of CMV Protocols in Other Countries:
In Queensland, Australia, suggested control measures include: "relocating workers who are pregnant, or who expect to become pregnant, to care for children aged over two to reduce contact with urine and saliva" (Queensland Government).
In Germany, to protect day care workers from primary CMV infection, their “CMV serostatus must be checked at the beginning of their pregnancy.” If the worker “is seronegative, she is excluded from professional activities with children under the age of three years” (Stranzinger et al., 2016).
- News 8: Mystic mother raises awareness of CMV, a risk for pregnant women and their babies (Sarah Cody, June 13, 2018)
- Sarah Cody, News Reporter, Facebook CMV Prevention video (June 2018)
- Connecticut Magazine: Mystic Mom 'Overwhelmed' by Governor Signing Law on ‘Stealth Virus’ That Can Catch Pregnant Women Unaware (2015)
- Cornell Alumni Magazine: In Memory of Elizabeth: Her daughter's death from a preventable disability spurs Lisa Avazian Saunders '82 into action (2015)
- Clinical Advisor magazine: “Connecticut passes
cytomegalovirus screening law for newborns” (2015)
- News 8 Medical/Health Report: "Mystic mom raising awareness about potentially deadly virus" (2015)
- News 8: Preventing Congenital CMV During Pregnancy (2015)
- Fox CT, Hartford Courant: Mother Working to Protect Pregnant Moms From Dangerous Virus (2014)
- Mystic River Press: Saunders seeks help with CMV ‘silent virus’ prevention bill (2014)
- Grace Magazine (The Day): "Loss and love: Author raises awareness about preventable birth defect" (2013)
Brenda Balch, MD, American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Early Hearing Detection & Intervention Connecticut Chapter Champion. Contact:firstname.lastname@example.org . She was instrumental in helping Connecticut be the second state to pass a CMV testing law for infants who fail their newborn hearing test. Prevention education did not pass, but she helped the CT Dept. of Public Health (DPH) put CMV information on its website, collaborated with the National CMV Foundation to put CT's DPH logo on one of their existing flyers, and created other materials to provide CMV education. See: https://portal.ct.gov/DPH/
- Connecticut Resources: NEW - About Cytomegalovirus (CMV) FOR OBSTETRIC HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS; NEW - About Cytomegalovirus (CMV) TESTING FOR
Dr. Adler testified in favor if the CT CMV bill: Adler, Stuart, MD, Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics and Chairman, Division of Infectious Disease. (2014, Feb. 28). Public Hearing Testimony, Raised H.B. No. 5147 . Retrieved from Connecticut General Assembly: http://www.cga.ct.gov/2014/PHdata/Tmy/2014HB-05147-R000228-Stuart%20Adler,%20Emeritus%20Professor%20of%20Pediatrics%20and%20Chairman,%20Division%20of%20Infectious%20Disease-TMY.PDF