I received the following press release from Janelle Greenlee, President/Founder, Stop CMV - The CMV Action Network:
What Women Aren't Expecting When They are Expecting
Only 13% of Women Have Heard of CMV - The Most Common Viral Cause of Birth Defects, Disabilities
June 1, 2012 - Hot on the heels of the recent box office draw, What to Expect when You're Expecting, pregnant women are being warned by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about what they may not expect -- CMV (cytomegalovirus), a common virus that can cause birth defects and developmental disabilities. A 2010 CDC survey reported that only 13 percent of women had heard of CMV, and very few were aware of prevention measures against the virus.
In the popular pregnancy book by the same name, What to Expect when You're Expecting, women are told that the chances of becoming infected with CMV during pregnancy are "remote." Not so, says the CDC. The CDC reports that one in every 150 children is born with congenital CMV. CMV is the most common congenital (meaning present at birth) infection in the United States and is the most common viral cause of birth defects and disabilities, including deafness, blindness, cerebral palsy, mental and physical disabilities, seizures, and death.
CMV is present in saliva, urine, tears, blood and mucus, and it is carried by 70 percent of healthy infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and children who contract the virus from their peers. Pregnant women who come into contact with these fluids can contract CMV, posing a major risk to daycare workers, preschool teachers, therapists, nurses and, more importantly, mothers who may not practice the best hygiene around their own small children.
"These messages need to be communicated to pregnant women to inform and empower them to take a more active role in their personal hygiene and healthcare decisions," says Janelle Greenlee, president and founder of Stop CMV and mother to twin daughters, both born with congenital CMV.
But pregnant women aren't being educated by medical professionals about how to prevent CMV. Both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the CDC recommend that OB/GYNs counsel women on basic prevention measures to guard against CMV infection. These include frequent hand washing, not kissing young children on the mouth, and not sharing food, towels or utensils with small children. The United States Senate has even weighed in, passing legislation that recommends more CMV prevention counseling for women of childbearing age.
Women's awareness of CMV ranks last among other birth defects and common childhood illnesses despite CMV being one of the most common and most serious causes of birth defects and disabilities.
"A lot of people are really shocked when they hear that there are as many kids with disabilities from congenital CMV as there are kids with fetal alcohol syndrome or Down syndrome or spina bifida -- and
people haven't heard of it," said CDC epidemiologist Michael Cannon.
June is National Congenital CMV Awareness Month
Stop CMV, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness of congenital CMV, wants to increase CMV's public profile to save thousands of children from disability and death.Stop CMV can connect media with parent supporters in the United States who will provide local media interviews. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.