Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Mom Asks CT to Be 2nd State to Stop #1 Birth Defects Virus

Lisa Saunders, Parent representative
Congenital CMV Foundation
P.O. Box 389
Mystic, CT 06355

Mother Asks Connecticut to Become Second State in Nation to Stop #1 Birth Defects Virus
House Bill 5147 includes Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Public Education Program 
Mystic, Conn.— Lisa Saunders of Mystic didn’t know how to prevent contracting CMV (cytomegalovirus), which causes more disabilities than Down syndrome, until it was too late for her daughter Elizabeth born with a severely damaged brain.
On March 25, Connecticut’s Public Health Committee voted in favor of House Bill 5147, which includes a cytomegalovirus (CMV) public education program. At present, Utah is the only state that requires their Public Health Department to provide CMV education (Utah’s law went into effect in July 2013).
Saunders, the parent representative of the Congenital CMV Foundation, is now asking legislators to make Connecticut the second state in the Union to prevent the leading viral cause of birth defects by passing HB 5147. Congenital CMV can be prevented if women of childbearing age learn the precautions to take, which includes refraining from kissing their toddlers around the mouth.
According to a study posted on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, “fewer than half (44%) of OB/GYNs surveyed reported counseling their patients about preventing CMV infection” despite the following statistics from the CDC:
  • About 1 in 150 children is born with congenital CMV infection (approximately 30,000 in the U.S. each year).
  • Congenital CMV causes one child to become disabled every hour.
According to an article co-authored by Dr. Cannon of the CDC, “The direct annual economic costs of caring for these children are estimated at $1-2 billion…by missing prevention opportunities, we in the medical and public health communities are washing our hands of the congenital CMV disease epidemic.”
Saunders testified in Hartford to the Public Health Committee on February 28 asking them to support HB 5147. Several medical doctors, including a Yale professor and other medical professionals and parents, sent in testimony letters of support.
Saunders said in her testimony, “My OB/GYNs didn’t tell me how to prevent congenital CMV until after my daughter was born. Then I received literature stating women who work in daycare, or have a young child in daycare, are at a higher risk for catching it as preschoolers are the majority of carriers. While I was pregnant with Elizabeth, I had a toddler plus ran a licensed daycare center. Nowhere in the licensing literature was there a CMV prevention message. In milder cases, children may lose hearing or struggle with learning. But Elizabeth's case was not a mild one.”
Saunders has been trying to raise CMV awareness for years through her speaking engagements and books, including Anything But a Dog! The perfect pet for a girl with congenital CMV (cytomegalovirus) and most recently her travel memoir, Mystic Seafarer’s Trail, where she jokes she's trying to get thin and famous like Amelia Earhart (who was secretly married in Noank), was so people will listen to her CMV prevention message. She is hoping CMV prevention becomes as well-known as the "don't change the kitty litter" rule when pregnant.

For more information about Lisa Saunders, visit her at: www.authorlisasaunders.com.
Photo caption:  Elizabeth Saunders with her big sister shortly before her death at 16 in 2006.

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