Monday, May 3, 2021

June CMV Awareness Month: NY, Protect pregnancies from #1 birth defects virus

I'm passionate about educating families about CMV prevention because when I lived in Maryland, I was not informed about CMV when I became a licensed daycare provider and my daughter was born with severe brain damage because I caught CMV when pregnant. 

New York moms/caregivers/teachers are also uneducated about CMV. 

I just want to make you aware of the following resources: 

1) June is National Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Awareness Month. The CDC features educational materials to increase awareness of CMV, "the most common infectious cause of birth defects in the United States." 

2) New York passed Senate Bill S2816 in 2018 that requires testing newborns for CMV if they fail their hearing test and "directs the department of health to establish an education program for women who may become pregnant, expectant parents and parents of infants relating to various aspects of cytomegalovirus"  (See NY Dept. of Health on CMV). 

On April 20, 2021, Senator Mannion filed Senate Bill S6287, establishing "Elizabeth's law," in memory of my daughter, which would require "child care providers to be trained on the impacts and dangers of congenital cytomegalovirus infection and the treatments and methods of prevention of cytomegalovirus infection"( Of course I voted "AYE"!

Despite OSHA recognizing CMV as an occupational hazard, most child care workers are unaware their unborn babies are at risk and many acknowledge using diaper wipes to clean up, which is not effective against CMV (Thackeray and Magnusson, 2016). OSHA states,  "Workers in childcare and some healthcare jobs have frequent potential exposure to people—usually children—infected with CMV" (

This is a very common virus, but it remains somewhat under the radar. A woman can unknowingly acquire it during pregnancy, and pass the infection to the unborn baby,” states Sunil K. Sood, M.D., Chair of Pediatrics, South Shore University Hospital, Attending Physician, Infectious Diseases, Cohen Children's Medical Center and Professor, Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell.

 CMV is spread from person to person through body fluids. Day care workers, nurses, mothers of young children, and others who work with young children are at greatest risk of exposure to CMV. Since young children commonly carry CMV, pregnant women and women planning pregnancies should take extra care to avoid urine and saliva from young children.” (“Could CMV Be the Cause of My Baby's Failed Hearing Test?”, NYMetroParents, 2016)

“Approximately 1-4% of all pregnant women will experience a primary CMV infection during their pregnancy. If you work in a child care setting, the risk increases to approximately 10%. If you have a toddler at home who is actively infected with CMV and shedding CMV in their saliva or urine, the risk is even higher, approaching 50% in some studies” (Gail J. Demmler-Harrison, MD, CMV In Pregnancy: What Should I Know?,” 2014).

There are several free resources to educate women about CMV:



  • For Caregivers/Teachers/Educators: "CMV Training Module Video" (This work was supported by the AUCD and the LEND Pediatric Audiology Program made possible through a Cooperative Agreement with the Health Resources and Services Material Child Health Bureau (MCHB) grant awarded to the University of Connecticut
  • For Employers: Publication: Brown, N. J. (2019, November). Occupational exposure to cytomegalovirus (CMV): Preventing exposure in child care and educational settings, including OSHA advisories. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, ILR School. (Available from:;  VimeoDownload video workshop. This publication/presentation is by Nellie Brown, MS, CIH, Certified Industrial Hygienist, and Director, Workplace Health and Safety Program, Worker Institute, Cornell University – ILR School. The information in this training program was originally developed for The Center for Occupational & Environmental Medicine at the Erie County Medical Center (ECMC). Permission to make this training program available online granted by The Center for Occupational & Environmental Medicine. For further information, or to ask about a Q and A over Zoom, contact Nellie Brown at:

Sample Social Media Shares:

1) Share: "The Danger of Spreading CMV: How We Can Protect Our Children" (ChildCare Aware of America, 2017)
2) Share this public service music video and/or use it for presentations: "Had I Known (about CMV)"

Thank you in advance for  helping to protect the unborn children of caregivers/teachers!

Lisa Saunders

About Lisa Saunders:

Lisa is the producer of: PSA: "Had I known (about CMV). Recent media coverage includes:

10 Reasons Why Caregivers/Teachers  Must be Educated About CMV

1) According to OSHA, CMV is a "Recognized Hazard". OSHA states that all workers have the right to “receive information and training on job hazards, including all hazardous substances in your workplace.” OSHA and CMV: "Childcare jobs may involve contact with children infected with CMV or their saliva, nasal secretions, or excrement. CMV is spread through exposure to infected body fluids. Since a person with CMV may show no symptoms, childcare workers should utilize proper handwashing and sanitization procedures. Childcare workers should also use personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, to help prevent exposure to body fluids” (  

2) HOWARD A. ZUCKER, M.D., J.D ,Commissioner of Health for New York, stated: "According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), female workers of reproductive age in child care centers should be educated on CMV and its potential risks, and should have access to appropriate hygiene measures to minimize occupationally-acquired infection "  (August 2018).      

3) American Academy of Pediatrics stated: “Child care staff members should receive counseling in regard to the risks of acquiring CMV from their primary health care provider. However, it is also important for the child care center director to inform infant caregivers/teachers of the increased risk of exposure to CMV during pregnancy” (Staff Education and Policies on Cytomegalovirus (CMV), "Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards; Guidelines for Early Care and Education Programs", American Academy of Pediatrics et al.).

4) Approximately 1 in 200 children are born in the U.S. with congenital CMV. The impact on the fetus may include deafness, blindness, cerebral palsy, developmental disabilities, seizures and even death (

5) Congenital cytomegalovirus is a more common cause of disabilities than Zika, Down syndrome and fetal alcohol syndrome.  CMV is the leading viral cause of birth defects ("Cytomegalovirus Infection in Pregnancy: Should All Women Be Screened?", Carlson et al., 2010).

6) CMV is a viral infection that is common in children. Up to 70% of children ages 1-3 years in group care settings excrete CMV. The New York Health Department website states, "In daycare centers, where hand washing practices may not be as good, there may be a greater risk of infection...Pregnant women working in child care facilities should minimize direct exposure to saliva and avoid kissing babies or young children on the mouth. Hugging is fine and is not a risk factor...." Information is provided in English and Spanish at:    

 7) Recent surveys show that most child care providers do not know about CMV and many acknowledge using diaper wipes to clean hands instead of following proper protocols (Thackeray and Magnusson, 2016). Diaper wipes do not effectively remove CMV from hands (Stowell et al., 2014). 

 8) Child care providers serving children receiving assistance through the Child Care and Development Fund program must receive training on topics covered by the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014. “Caregivers and teachers are required to be educated regarding Standard Precautions [developed by CDC] before beginning to work in the program and annually thereafter. For center-based care, training should comply with requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)” (Caring for Our Children Basics).

 9) Child care providers accredited by National Association for the Education of Young Children should already be familiar with the document, “NAEYC Early Childhood Program Standards and Accreditation Criteria & Guidance for Assessment,” which acknowledges the need to "reduce occupational hazards such as infectious diseases (e.g., exposure of pregnant staff to CMV…)”

10) Potential Cost of Not Warning Workers about CMV: In New South Wales, “a childcare worker and her severely disabled son were awarded $4.65 million. A Court of Appeal ruled that the child's disabilities resulted from the woman being infected with cytomegalovirus (CMV) at work (Hughes v SDN Children's services 2002)” (Queensland Government, Australia, 2017)


American Academy of Pediatrics, Red Book, 2015, p.144-145 (retrieved from .

American Academy of Pediatrics et al., Staff Education and Policies on Cytomegalovirus (CMV), "Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards; Guidelines for Early Care and Education Programs" (retrieved from

American Academy of Pediatrics, Pennsylvania Chapter, Model Child Care Health Policies, “Acceptance of Occupational Risk by Staff Members,” Aronson SS, ed. 5th ed. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2014., p. 116 (retrieved from

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, "Reducing Risks of Birth Defects: What infections should I be concerned about and how can I reduce my risk of getting them during pregnancy" (retrieved from

Cannon, Michael J., and Davis, Katherine Finn, "Washing our hands of the congenital cytomegalovirus disease epidemic,"2005 (retrieved from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and Congenital CMV Infection" (retrieved from CDC's Graphics and Web Buttons ( 

Colleran, Vanessa, "The Role of Prenatal Counseling in Preventing Congenital CMV", 2020 (retrieved from

Demmler-Harrison, MD, Gail J., “CMV In Pregnancy: What Should I Know?,” 2014, (retrieved from,risk%20increases%20to%20approximately%2010%25.).

Doutre, Sara M., et al, Losing Ground: Awareness of Congenital Cytomegalovirus in the United States, 2016 (retrieved from

National CMV Foundation (found at

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), ”Cytomegalovirus" (retrieved from

Revello, Maria Grazia, et al., "Prevention of Primary Cytomegalovirus Infection in Pregnancy", 2015 (retrieved from:

Saint Louis, Catherine, New York Times, "CMV Is a Greater Threat to Infants Than Zika, but Far Less Often Discussed", 2016 (retrieved from

Stowell, Jennifer D. et al., "Cytomegalovirus Survival and Transferability and the Effectiveness of Common Hand-Washing Agents against Cytomegalovirus on Live Human Hands", 2014 (retrieved from

Thackeray, Rosemary, and Magnusson, Brianna, "Child Care Provider Awareness and Prevention of Cytomegalovirus and Other Infectious Diseases", 2016 (retrieved from

Zucker, M.D., J.D., Howard A, Commissioner, NY Department of Health, 2018 (letter retrieved from

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