The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging obstetricians and gynecologists to counsel women who are pregnant or may become pregnant to take hygiene steps to guard against becoming infected with cytomegalovirus, or CMV.
Contact with the saliva or urine of preschool-age children is a leading cause of this viral infection among pregnant women, the CDC says.
Congenital cytomegalovirus infection is caused when an infected mother passes the virus to her fetus through the placenta, during childbirth or while breast feeding.
Babies who have been affected by the virus will not show any signs until after birth, although some of these infants can develop hearing, vision, neurologic, and developmental problems over time. In some cases, there are symptoms at birth, which can include premature delivery, being small for gestational age, jaundice, enlarged liver and spleen, microcephaly (small head), seizures, rash, and feeding difficulties. These infants are also at high risk for developing hearing, vision, neurologic, and developmental problems.
Hand washing is the key and NO kisses: It is recommended that pregnant women wash hands often with soap and water, especially after contact with saliva or diapers from young children, to not kiss children under age 6 on the mouth or cheek to avoid saliva, and to not share food, drinks or utensils with young children.
How will a parent know if a child has the virus? The affected child will have ‘mono-like’ symptoms including a fever that lasts for several day, unusual or extreme tiredness, muscle aches, headache.
Kidshealth.org offers more information for expectant moms.