Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Herpes, CMV and pregnancy: protect your baby!

I want to say something about cytomegalovirus, more commonly known as CMV.  It’s a common virus, part of the herpes family.  Once it is in your body it is there for life.

In healthy adults and children, the virus has no harmful effects. If you have it you probably don’t know anything about it and never will. So should you be concerned?  Maybe and maybe not, but you should most certainly be aware.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says the virus affects about one in every 150 children born in the USA.  Of those, one in five will have permanent health problems.

How so, if the virus has no effect on healthy children?  Because what the CDC doesn’t mention is that when the virus infects a woman during pregnancy, her child runs a risk of severe disability.

A simple blood test could establish whether a pregnant woman is infected with CMV, yet the procedure is not standard and most women are unaware of any danger and have not heard of the virus.

Dr Tom Bass, neonatologist at the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, Norfolk, VA sees between six and eight cases each year.  He says: “part of the impetus for not having universal screening is that the treatment is very poor. You’re not going to reverse the devastating brain effects even if you clear the virus.”

Polly Lynne Matthews is regional president of a virtual support group, trying to get the message to mothers about the potential dangers of CMV infection via social media such as Facebook.

Her son, Liam was born deaf and with cerebral palsy after she contracted the virus during pregnancy.   She says: “When health professionals say it’s rare, I want to scream it from the rooftops.”  She adds: “If someone had only told me.  They take enough blood – just ask for one more test.  People are suffering because they don’t know about it.”

by: Virgo Mulana Al-banjari & Tom Bass

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