Common virus with no symptoms left baby disabled for life
“CMV spreads from person to person through body fluids, such as blood, saliva, urine, semen and breast milk.”
When mum Kate Daly was pregnant with her twin boys, she thought everything was A-okay. Her pregnancy was going smoothly. She was fit. She was healthy. Even her twins seemed normal.
In fact, even years after she gave birth she though everything was fine. That is, until one of her boys, William, failed a hearing test. Soon they found out that William suffers from cerebral palsy and severe dyspraxia. He also has trouble hearing.
A common virus called cytomegalovirus that she had contracted towards the end of her pregnancy and passed on to her kids.
“350 babies are born with CMV each year, fewer babies are born with Down Syndrome” said Professor William Rawlinson, NSW Health Pathology and Senior Medical Virologist.
Kate had no symptoms, except for a mild sore throat and a slight fever.
“The last few years have been the hardest years of my life,” Kate said in a Mama Mia report . “The while family has had to adjust, not just to the day to day care of William but for William’s sisters, for a life with a mother caring for a disabled son and to life with a little brother who simply doesn’t understand.”
But she’s trying to use her experience to educate other mums. Now she’s founder and president of the Congenital CMV Association of Australia, and is working with Professor Rawlinson to raise CMV awareness.
“You need to know the things you can do to reduce your risks of CMV,” she said. “These include avoiding sharing food with young children, sucking the dirt off your child’s dummy, make sure you wash your hands after you change nappies, and to make sure you don’t kiss toddlers on the mouth.”
What is CMV?
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common virus that can infect almost everyone, even healthy people. Most people do not know that they have it because it rarely manifests itself through symptoms.
If you’re pregnant or have weakened immune system, however, CMV is a cause for concern.
“CMV spreads from person to person through body fluids, such as blood, saliva, urine, semen and breast milk,” says Mayo Clinic. “CMV spread through breast milk usually doesn’t make the baby sick. However, if you are pregnant and develop an active infection, you can pass the virus to your baby.”
Symptoms in babies
Although most babies may appear healthy, they can still be infected, and only a few symptoms develop over time—sometimes not for months or years after birth.
The most common of these late-occurring signs is hearing loss. A small number may develop vision impairment as well.
Other symptoms include:
- Yellow skin and eyes (jaundice)
- Purple skin splotches or a rash or both
- Small size at birth (or low birth weight)
- Enlarged spleen
- Enlarged and poorly functioning liver
- Pneumonia Seizures
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