On November 13, 2011, that big scary word changed our lives forever. Our son was born with Congenital Cytomegalovirus (CMV). After 16 days in the NICU with a jet ventilator, blood transfusions, testing, and therapies, he was able to come home. For the past 6 years, we have been drowning in specialist appointments, surgeries, therapies, counseling, and worry.
Preston was lucky; he was only mildly affected. He has brain calcifications which damaged his ventricles, impulse control, vision, and balance. He has mild hearing loss, but he could wake up deaf tomorrow. He has Cerebral Palsy as a result of the brain damage. But he can walk, talk, eat, and play. Many children who are born with Congenital CMV cannot do those things.
June is National CMV Awareness Month and as a mom, I feel it is necessary to share with you Preston's story to help with prevention. Please, educate yourself on CMV and take preventative measures.
What is CMV?
- Congenital CMV (cytomegalovirus) is the most common viral cause of birth defects and developmental disabilities in the U.S. Each year, 30,000 children (1 in 200) are born with congenital CMV, resulting in 400 deaths and 6,000 children with permanent disabilities (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
- More children will have disabilities due to congenital CMV than other well-known infections and syndromes, including Down Syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Spina Bifida, and Pediatric HIV/AIDS (National CMV Foundation).
- CMV is a greater risk to newborns than ZIKA, but far less talked about. (New York Times)
What is the BIG deal?
If you get the virus while pregnant, the baby may be born with birth defects and developmental disabilities, including:
- Hearing Loss
- Vision Loss
- Cerebral Palsy
- Enlarged Spleen
- Lack of coordination
- Feeding Issues
- Sleeping, Behavior, Sensory Issues
The CMV infection is most commonly spread via contact with the saliva or urine of young children. Women who are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant should practice the following CMV prevention and healthy pregnancy tips to mitigate the risk of contracting CMV:
- Do not share food, utensils, drinks or straws
- Do not put a pacifier in your mouth
- Avoid contact with saliva when kissing a child
- Do not share a toothbrush
- Wash your hands
For more information about congenital CMV including screening and treatment, visit www.nationalcmv.org.