Information about Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
Overview of CMV
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is the most common cause of congenital disabilities in babies in developed countries. Pregnant women who become infected with CMV can pass the virus onto their unborn baby. Congenital CMV (cCMV) infection can result in multiple disabilities in the baby such as hearing loss, vision loss, small head size, lack of coordination, and in rare cases, death.
Why Should You Care?
CMV is the most common congenital infection, infecting one in 200 infants, or approximately 2,500 babies in the world each day. One baby is permanently disability by cCMV every hour. Moreover, cCMV causes more long-term problems and childhood deaths than Down Syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and neural tube defects.
However, only 9% of women know about CMV and fewer know about the steps to take to reduce the chance of acquiring a CMV infection during pregnancy and passing it on to their unborn baby.
How Can CMV be Prevented?
CMV is a communicable disease, that means there are behavioral prevention measures you can take to reduce your chances of contracting CMV while pregnant. Those measures include:
- Not sharing food, drinks, utensils, straws, or toothbrushes.
- Washing your hands frequently especially after changing a diaper or using the restroom.
- Avoiding contact with salvia when kissing children.
- See other prevention information on the National CMV Foundation website.
CMV Public Health and Policy Efforts in the United States
Recognizing the lack of awareness about cCMV and its potential devastating, long-term effects on babies and families, grassroots efforts have encouraged state lawmakers to pass legislation requiring public awareness initiatives, education programs, and testing of newborns for CMV. As of April 2022, 11 states have laws in place that mandate education, hearing-targeted screening, or both and many other states are in progress of passing legislation. An additional state, Minnesota, passed universal cCMV screening for all newborns that will go into effect in 2023. Additional legislation details are available on the National CMV Foundation's website. Moreover, many individual hospitals and hospital systems have hearing-targeted cCMV screening policies in place.