Cytomegalovirus Awareness: StopCMV.org
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Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common virus that infects people of all ages and is usually harmless to people with a healthy immune system. Most people have been exposed to CMV at some point in their lifetime without realizing it. It is estimated that 50-80% of adults in the United States have been infected with CMV by the time they reach 40 years old. Most infections with CMV are “silent” or asymptomatic, meaning most people who are infected with CMV have no signs or symptoms.
Once CMV is in a person’s body, it stays there for life. Acquired CMV infection is when a person is infected with CMV after birth, during childhood or adulthood. Congenital CMV infection occurs when a pregnant woman is exposed to CMV and the CMV passes from the pregnant woman to her unborn child, causing birth defects and developmental disabilities.
A 2008 study of women in the United States found that only 14% had heard of CMV. An earlier study in 2006 found that 22% of women in the United States had heard of CMV, compared with 97% who had heard of Down Syndrome and 98% who had heard of HIV/AIDS. CMV prevention and treatment during pregnancy can prevent birth defects and developmental disabilities.
More children have disabilities due to congenital CMV (cytomegalovirus) than other well-known infections and syndromes, including Down Syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Spina Bifida, and Pediatric HIV/AIDS.
According to a 2007 survey, fewer than half (44%) of OB/GYNs reported counseling their patients about preventing CMV. This could be due to the perceived rarity of congenital CMV cases, the lack of congenital CMV diagnoses within their practice, or just a simple oversight.
Stop CMV.org understands how difficult it may be to adjust ones daily routine while pregnant, especially for mothers and those women who work as child care providers, daycare workers, nurses, teachers, and therapists. However, it is important for these messages to be communicated to pregnant women and those planning future pregnancies in order to inform and empower them to take a more active role in their personal hygiene and healthcare decisions.