Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Book Prevents Birth Defects

Preventing birth defects by memoir
You may have seen the big news item published by Reuters (Dec. '08) about hearing loss and congenital CMV (cytomegalovirus)--the #1 viral cause of birth defects, which causes more disabilities than Down syndrome. Although largely preventable, OB/GYNs do not routinely warn their pregnant patients how to avoid contracting CMV.

I am the parent representative of the Congenital CMV Foundation and wrote my light-hearted memoir, Anything But a Dog! The perfect pet for a girl with congenital CMV (cytomegalovirus), recently published by Unlimited Publishing LLC, in an effort to teach the public how to spare their unborn children from congenital CMV and to raise funds for CMV research. Through the use of humor, honesty, a series of disastrous pets and a big, homeless dog's devotion to my severely disabled daughter, my book is beginning to attract an audience that has never heard of CMV. In the closing chapter, I include highly useful resources, contacts and support for anyone whose life is touched by CMV. For an excerpt, see:

I was invited to speak at the international 2008 Congenital CMV Convention held at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, GA, to a community scientists and families about my daughter Elizabeth who was born with severe cerebral palsy and mental retardation in 1989 as a result of congenital CMV. Mothers approached me after my speech, holding their children wearing hearing aids, or pushing them in wheelchairs, and wanted to know the same thing: "Why didn’t my doctor warn me about CMV?"
More than half of OB/GYNs surveyed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) admitted they don't routinely caution their patients about CMV. One was quoted in FitPregnancy magazine as saying "The list of things we're supposed to talk about during women's first visit could easily take two hours and scare them to death.” To prevent CMV infection, pregnant women need to wash their hands often when caring for young children and refrain from kissing them around the mouth. CMV infection is often symptomless in healthy individuals but can be devastating to the unborn if their mothers contract it for the first time during the pregnancy.

For government information about CMV, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at:

Reviews of Anything But a Dog! The perfect pet for a girl with congenital CMV:

"Saunders weaves laughter and tears, congenital CMV education and the challenges of raising two daughters – one a tomboy and the other severely disabled." Times Herald Record,

“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.",

“Saunders takes readers on a road trip as harrowing as any Dog Whisperer training challenge… Beyond the laughs about a dizzying pet search, Saunders' dog tale is about a mother who candidly reveals her family's burden, love, and acceptance of a daughter born with severe disabilities-and the people, and pets, forever touched by her life.“ Rockland Magazine,

"Very touching, moving, personal; a joy to read. I laughed out loud and I cried. I congratulate Lisa on producing a very good piece of work.” Gail J Demmler-Harrison MD, Professor of Pediatrics, Director of the Congenital CMV Disease Registry and Research Program, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas


National CMV Disease Registry: If purchased through them, a percent is donated to CMV research. See:
Author: If you would rather pay by check or PayPal, write to me at
I am a full-time writer for the State University of New York at Rockland Community College, a member of its Speakers Bureau and the Congential CMV Foundation parent representative and a STOP CMV area rep. My husband Jim and I live in the lower Hudson Valley with our beagle/Basset hound.

To see a write-up about my speech at the CDC, my efforts in CMV prevention and quotes from the doctors I work with, see:

To watch my very short news interview (1.5 min.) about CMV, click into:

To listen to a long radio interview (52 min):

Please help me prevent birth defects!


Lisa Saunders
Suffern, NY

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