Thursday, 8 May 2014

Are You In The Know About CMV?


Parenting opens up a world to us that we never knew existed. There are magical moments, moments that imprint in your memory that stand the tests of time.. But there are also scary moments, and things that could come along and pop our blissful existence. There are aspects that we need to know about, things we need to know about.

One of those aspects is CMV (Cytomegalovirus). Do you know anything about CMV? I know I didn't. CMV is a very common virus, and it's actually harmless to the majority of people...but it can be very dangerous to unborn babies.

Congenital CMV infection occurs when a mother is infected with strain of CMV she has not previously come in contact with and is passed to her unborn child. Despite being one of the main causes of birth defects in the UK, pregnant women are not routinely warned or educated about CMV - nor told of simple precautions they can take to lower risks of contracting CMV during pregnancy. 

CMV is the most common birth disorder here in the UK, and it can cause a devastating range of physical, sensory and cognitive disabilities. Around 900 children will be born in the UK each year with permanent disabilities as a direct result of the virus. Most people will come in contact with the virus at some point in their lifetime (50-80% of the population in the UK carry it), but so many of us have never even heard of it.

CMV is a "stealth virus" which works by evading the immune system, so developing a vaccine isn't easy. However, international experts and government representatives are now positive it can be done. Once you catch it, you have it in your body for life but it doesn't protect you from catching a different strain of the virus. The virus is spread through saliva, nasal discharge, and other bodily fluids, yet with awareness and simple precautions, a pregnant woman can greatly reduce the risk to herself and her unborn child. 


Symptoms?

Often the symptoms can be mistaken for a cold and healthy adults will often not realize that they have it.  

Up to 25% of young children have had a CMV infection, which means they are at risk of passing it on to pregnant women in their bodily fluids. This means that pregnant women who have young children or work with young children should be particularly careful about hygiene.

KEY FACTS:

- CMV is more common than Down’s syndrome, Toxoplasmosis, Spina Bifida and Cystic Fibrosis
- 1 in 150 newborn babies are born with CMV, though many will not have symptoms
- 1 in 1000 babies in the UK will suffer a severe disability having contracted CMV in utero
- 1/3 of the babies who appear healthy at birth go on to develop permanent disabilities over time
- CMV can be a cause of miscarriage and stillbirth
- CMV problems include hearing loss, autism, physical and motor impairment, learning difficulties and visual impairment.

SIMPLE WAYS TO REDUCE RISK:

Wash hands with soap & water after changing nappies, clearing up food or wiping a child's face
- Avoid sharing dummies, cutlery, drinks or food with anyone
- Avoid kissing babies & young children directly on the mouth or near nose/cheek - give hugs or kiss on forehead
- Wash any items that have been contaminated by bodily fluids with soap and water
- Use condoms during sexual intercourse after conception


CMV ACTION is a new charity and their aim is to help raise awarenes. They want to distribute important information of their campaign to help save the lives of babies and stop children and families from suffering unnecessarily in the UK.

CMV ACTION is staffed by volunteers - the majority of whom have CMV children. Their aim is to educate women in the UK about the virus and, more importantly, the very simple steps that can be taken to prevent this devastating virus.

This June highlights the 1st Annual CMV Action Awareness month. A whole month dedicated to sharing the important information that can help reduce the risk of contracting CMV while pregnant.

 For more information and to get involved with the awareness month, you can follow CMV Action on:

 - Twitter

There are a number of case studies on the CMV Action website, I have sat and read a few of them. Some have happy endings, other's not so happy but they all share one very important message. We need to know about CMV. 


Disclaimer: I have not been compensated for writing this post. I wanted to share as I think it is an important issue.







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