Although awareness has grown about viruses like Zika that can devastate the unborn, cytomegalovirus (CMV), a much more common and equally harmful prenatal viral infection, doesn’t get discussed with pregnant moms as much as it should. Medical counseling, testing, and administration of anti-viral medications could save more babies and their families from a lifetime of CMV woes.
More than half of adults older than 40 and one in three children by the age of 5 have been infected with CMV, a common virus in the herpes family. An estimated 1 in 150 babies gets infected at birth with CMV, with 1 in 5 of these infants sickened or harmed, including with hearing loss, microcephaly (a deformity so they have tiny heads), intellectual deficits or impaired vision. This means CMV seriously harms as many as 8,000 youngsters annually across the United States, and it is fatal for about 400 infants.
Affected families and medical experts have told the New York Times that more needs to be done to increase CMV awareness, testing, and prevention, especially in comparison to the public health attention that has been paid to Zika and the damage it may inflict on the unborn.