Saturday, February 27, 2016

My baby was born with microcephaly: CMV versus Zika

My name is Lisa Saunders and I live in Mystic, Connecticut.

My daughter, Elizabeth Saunders, was born with microcephaly (see attached), and although Zika is in the news, cytomegalovirus (CMV), the #1 birth defects virus, is barely mentioned--and it's preventable if women know about it!
Arizona's 12 News just did a piece on how much more widespread CMV is (and how to prevent it):

According to the CDC, congenital (meaning present at birth) CMV causes one child every hour to become disabled in the U.S. That is over 5,000 a year. See:

I'm the parent representative of the Congenital Cytomegalovirus Foundation and was instrumental in getting Connecticut to become one of the few states in the U.S. to pass a law to help mitigate congenital CMV (the law went into effect this year). 

Unfortunately, the prevention education part of the CT CMV bill didn't pass because of funds. That is why I'm turning to the media to help educate the public as it has for Zika as a cause of microcephaly (having a small, damaged brain can mean mental and physical disabilities, epilepsy, etc.). To help you find an angle to cover it, I created the following press release about the disease and my work to help prevent it through my new table-setting fairytale with an appendix for adults on why they shouldn't share cups, etc., with children (I did a short video to introduce the book to children at: CMV is spread by bodily fluids and most women contract it from their apparently healthy toddlers because they share cups/utensils with them (along with kisses on/near the mouth).  If the woman is pregnant, she can pass the virus onto her developing baby.

Studies done in the U.S. and France show that if women are educated on how to prevent CMV, they will greatly reduce their chances of contracting it. Only 7% of  men and 13%  of women surveyed had heard of congenital CMV.


Media coverage on my new children's book include:

Please see the following press release and photographs for more information.


Lisa Saunders
P.O. Box 389
Mystic, CT 06355



Mother Writes Table-Setting Fairytale to Stop #1 Birth Defects Virus

(and to explain how the knife stops the dish from running away with the spoon)

 “Once Upon a Placemat: A Table Setting Tale” includes germ prevention


Mystic, Conn.—  Lisa Saunders wrote Once Upon a Placemat: A Table Setting Tale to teach children how to set the table in a fun and memorable way, in addition to teaching their parents how to stop the leading viral cause of birth defects, congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV), which is spread when cups and other dishware are shared. The "Placemat" characters are available for coloring on free downloadable placemats, which also includes germ prevention tips, at: (This link includes a version of the placemat available to organizations who would like to distribute it with their own information/logo placed in the top open space.)

Lisa Saunders is an award-winning writer living in Mystic, Connecticut, with her husband and hound. A graduate of Cornell University, she is the parent representative of the Congenital Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Foundation, and in 2015, was instrumental in helping Connecticut become one of the few states in the country to enact a law combating the leading viral cause of birth defects, congenital (meaning present at birth) CMV.  Saunders said, “CMV is carried by a high percentage of apparently healthy toddlers. It is found in bodily fluids such as saliva and is of concern to women of childbearing age because the virus can lead to complications in their baby's development if they are pregnant while infected.”

Saunders’ daughter, Jackie Tortora, co-authored “Once Upon a Placemat: A Table Setting Tale,” which includes recipes of the foods eaten in the story. Tortora is a digital strategist living with her husband and their young son in Vienna, Virginia. 

“Once Upon a Placemat” is an expanded version of the fairytale Saunders told in her children’s novel, “Ride a Horse Not an Elevator,” which is featured in the Cornell University 4-H “Horse Book in a Bucket Program.”

“Once Upon a Placemat” is illustrated by Marianne Greiner of Bloomfield, New York.  

For more information, visit or write to



Photograph captions:
Mother Lisa Saunders holds her new baby, Elizabeth, born in 1989 with microcephaly from congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV). Her older daughter looks on. Elizabeth struggled with physical and mental disabilities for 16 years, in addition to a hearing loss, until her death during a seizure in 2006. Photograph by James P. Saunders.

Lisa Saunders holds a photograph of her daughter, Elizabeth (1989-2006), next to Governor Dannel P. Malloy at the ceremonial bill signing for Public Act 15-10: An Act Concerning Cytomegalovirus at the Office of the Governor in Hartford, Conn., on July 28, 2015.


List Price: $6.99

Publication Date: Feb 02 2016

ISBN/EAN13:1523750790 / 9781523750795

Page Count: 40

Trim Size: 6" x 9"

Language: English

Color: Black and White

Related Categories: Juvenile Fiction / Cooking & Food

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