Prenatal infection rare, but perilous
CHICAGO — It's a common, usually harmless virus. But in a rare, unlucky set of circumstances, it can be devastating for infants whose mothers become infected during pregnancy.
Brain damage, deafness and other birth defects are among potential problems when women inadvertently transmit the virus in the womb. Because those complications are so rare, most people have never heard of CMV — shorthand for cytomegalovirus.
Infectious disease specialists, parents of affected children and, now, some legislators are trying to spread awareness about the virus.
CMV is related to germs that cause genital herpes, cold sores and chicken pox. It spreads by exposure to body fluids from an infected person. Infections usually are silent but can cause sore throats and fatigue.
However, the virus can be serious for people with weakened immune systems, including HIV-infected patients and organ transplant recipients. And it can interfere with prenatal brain growth.
The chances of getting infected while pregnant are small, and the chances of passing along the virus in utero are even smaller. Of about 4 million annual U.S. births, about 30,000 babies — less than 1 percent — are born with a CMV infection. About 5,000 of those babies will have CMV-related permanent problems.
The first law in the nation mandating a CMV awareness campaign took effect in July in Utah. It requires urine or saliva tests in newborns who fail already required hearing tests. Studies suggest early treatment with anti-viral medicine may limit hearing loss and may benefit the child's development, too.
Lawmakers in Illinois and Connecticut introduced similar measures this year.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Kentucky clerk invokes ‘God’s authority,’ still refuses gay marriage licenses
- Less sleep increases your chance of catching a cold, researchers say
- Clinton: Women ‘expect’ extremism from terrorists, not GOP candidates
- Postal Service falls short of slower mail delivery standards
- Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Fischer open to interest rate hike
- New Orleans slow to heal 10 years after Hurricane Katrina
- Will Trump run as independent? He says decision will be made soon
- New guidelines to take effect for military equipment distributed to law enforcement
- Indians, Asians lead Mexicans among immigrants in U.S.
- Lost hiker survived 9 days with broken leg in California’s Sierra Nevada
- West Virginia on pace to issue record number of concealed-carry permits