February is International Prenatal Infection Prevention Month. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists cytomegalovirus (CMV) first of four infections on its webpage, Protect Your Unborn Baby or Newborn from Infections:
"It's been 13 years this February since my daughter Elizabeth died during a seizure at age 16. Epilepsy was one of her many health complications as a result of me contracting CMV when I was pregnant with her," says Lisa Saunders, leader of Child Care Providers Education Committee, National CMV Foundation. "I was a licensed, in-home child care provider, church nursery volunteer and the mother of a toddler, yet I didn't know about CMV. I always washed my hands after changing diapers, but often too busy chasing toddlers to get to the sink after wiping noses and picking up toys, I used diaper wipes to clean my hands not realizing they didn't kill CMV. I had known about CMV, I would have taken extra precautions, such as always washing my hands with soap and water and never sharing cups with my own toddler."
Saunders says, "The prevalence of CMV in child care is a very inconvenient truth." Mothers of children in group care are at increased risk for CMV because their child is at greater risk for contracting CMV in daycare. In the article, "Infectious diseases and daycare and preschool education," the authors state: “Children cared for at daycare or in preschool education exhibit a two to three times greater risk of acquiring infections… Small children have habits that facilitate the dissemination of diseases, such as putting their hands and objects in their mouths, very close interpersonal contact” (Nesti and Goldbaum, 2007).
“Almost all the babies that I see who have congenital CMV, there is an older toddler at home who is in daycare,” said Dr. Jason Brophy, a pediatric infectious disease specialist, in the Ottawa Citizen (Payne, 2018).
On average, 30-40% of preschoolers in day care excrete CMV in their saliva and/or urine (Red Book: 2015 Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases, AAP, p. 144).
"Up to 70% of children ages 1 to 3 years in group care settings excrete the virus” (AAP et al., Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards; Guidelines for Early Care and Education Programs, modified 2017)
Although Saunders has been shouting CMV prevention from the rooftops ever since her daughter died and helped get a CMV testing law passed in Connecticut in 2015, CMV prevention remains little known--even among child care providers and early childhood education teachers who have an occupational risk for the virus. "I've had so many people respond to my CMV warnings that, 'If CMV was really a problem, my doctor would have told me.'"
Saunders believes there are six reasons why most women have never heard of CMV:
To register for the Prenatal Infection Prevention Symposium, visit: gbsi.me/PIPS (registration is complimentary).The Prenatal Infection Prevention Symposium is a collaborative partnership between Group B Strep International and Star Legacy Foundation, both nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations working towards more babies being born healthy and staying healthy.