CMV or Cytomegalovirus is a common virus and is typically harmless to the general population. A CMV infection causes cold like symptoms such as a sore throat, swollen glands, a fever, and fatigue. According to the Centers for Disease Control between 50 and 80 percent of people in the United States have had a CMV infection by the time they are 40 years old. The symptoms last for a couple weeks and are rarely a concern for healthy children and adults, according to the National CMV Foundation. CMV can cause serious problems in people with weak immune systems and in babies who were infected before birth.
CMV is the most common congenital viral infection that is transmitted before birth. 1 in 150 children is born with congenital CMV, according the National CMV Foundation. It is difficult to predict future health problems and developmental prognosis for babies because congenital CMV is very diverse and can affect people differently. 90% of babies born with CMV with appear to be asymptomatic. They tend to follow standard growth and development and live healthy lives, but can develop problems such as hearing, vision, and learning difficulties. About 10% of babies born with CMV will be symptomatic at birth and can experience some major challenges such as hearing loss, cerebral palsy, microcephaly, learning disabilities, seizures, and weight problems.
It is important to get screened for CMV before you plan to conceive. If a woman has been exposed to a recent CMV infection, it is recommended that she wait until her CMV IgM antibody levels decline to an undetectable level, and her CMV IgG avidity index climbs to a highly favorable percentage, before trying to conceive. This can take anywhere from six to twelve months. It is important to wait until the CMV infection has resolved because it minimizes the risk of CMV transmission from the pregnant woman to her baby in utero.
CMV is very easily preventable. According to National CMV Foundation, contact with children’s saliva and urine is a major cause of CMV infection among pregnant women. If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant follow these easy steps.
- Do not share food utensils, drinks, or straws
- Do not put your child’s pacifier in your mouth
- Avoid kissing children on the lips
- Do not share a toothbrush
- Wash your hands and toys that were mouthed thoroughly
If your baby is diagnosed with CMV it is important to have regular check-ups for vision and hearing. Early diagnosis of hearing and vision loss is critical and can help long term development. Therapies such as PT, OT, and ST are also important and can help with cognitive and physical disabilities such as fine motor delay, gross motor delay, feeding difficulties, and more.
For more information on CMV = https://www.nationalcmv.org/overview.aspx
-Matthew D’Antonio, DPT, PT
-Pediatric Physical Therapist