June is National Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Awareness Month. Lisa Saunders Launches “ChildCare Providers Fighting CMV Project” to Protect Newborns from #1 Birth Defects Virus

Former child care provider creates a free online CMV prevention tool kit that includes bathroom signs, color-me-in fairytale, placemats, PowerPoint presentation, and the song, "Had I Known (About CMV)" by Debra Lynn Alt, to teach schools and families how to “share a meal, not the germs.”

Mystic, CT, June 05, 2018 --(PR.com)-- Congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) is the leading viral cause of birth defects, annually disabling 4,000 newborns each year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although congenital CMV causes more disabilities than Zika and fetal alcohol syndrome, women are largely unaware of how to prevent it. Because mothers of children in group care and child care providers are at increased risk (Pass et al, 1986), Lisa Saunders, a former licensed child care provider, is launching the “ChildCare Providers Fighting CMV Project."

Every year, 8 - 20% of caregivers/teachers contract CMV according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommends that caregivers/teachers be counseled about CMV by their healthcare providers and daycare center directors. Saunders, the author of the article, "The Danger of Spreading CMV: How We Can Protect Our Children" (ChildCare Aware of America, 2017), is launching the Project in June in honor of National Cytomegalovirus Awareness Month. The “ChildCare Providers Fighting CMV Project” provides a free online CMV prevention tool kit, which includes bathroom sink signs, the color-me-in fairytale, "Once Upon a Placemat: A Table Setting Tale," and a PowerPoint presentation to teach schools and families how to “share a meal, not the germs."

Singer/songwriter Debra Lynn Alt of North Branford has donated her new song, "Had I Known (about CMV)," to the online tool kit to help convey how a mother feels when she learns her newborn's disabilities might have been prevented had she known about CMV. The song can be heard at this link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9Klfxar2CmjRGN0cnBNQXRDdExMQWJOVHVZRGR1aWFJX0lJ/view?usp=sharing

Congenital (present at birth) CMV can cause premature birth, hearing and vision loss, small head size, lack of coordination, seizures, and death, according to the CDC. According to the March of Dimes, “As many as 7 in 10 children (70 percent) between 1 and 3 years of age who go to day care may have CMV. They can pass it on to their families, caretakers and other children.”

Brenda K. Balch, MD, American Academy of Pediatrics Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Chapter Champion, says, "We must commit to educating the public about cytomegalovirus so that we can potentially prevent the devastating consequences of this disease on our children." Congenital CMV is the most common cause of nonhereditary sensorineural hearing loss in childhood. Along with Saunders, Balch was instrumental in getting the 2016 CMV law passed in Connecticut that requires newborns be tested for CMV if they fail their hearing screen. Balch is a co-author of the recent University of Connecticut study, "National Child Care Provider's Awareness of Congenital Cytomegalovirus (cCMV)," that concluded, "Consistent with previous research, child care providers do not have knowledge regarding CMV or cCMV." (Olivia DeWald B.A., Casey Turovac B.A., Brenda Balch, M.D., and Kathleen Cienkowski, Ph.D., 2018).

The mission of the Childcare Providers Fighting CMV Project is to educate women who care for toddlers on how to reduce the spread of CMV to protect their pregnancies. Saunders says, “CMV prevention education is not a doctor’s 'standard of care’ and there is no federal law to ensure child care workers receive CMV prevention education. Although I was a licensed child care provider and the mother of a toddler, I was unaware of CMV until my daughter, Elizabeth, was born severely disabled it. I wrote my light-hearted fairytale, 'Once Upon a Placemat: A Table Setting Tale,' to teach the importance of children and their parents washing their hands before eating and setting the table, and to never share their cups and utensils with each other.”

Jessica Rachels of the Idaho CMV Advocacy Project is a mother creating her own CMV prevention goody bags, which includes the book, "Once Upon a Placemat: A Table Setting Tale," for daycare centers and Early Head Start programs. Like Saunders, Rachels was a childcare provider unaware of CMV until it was too late to protect her baby. The story of Jessica Rachels and Saunders are told in Chapter 1 of the book, "Help Childcare Providers Fight CMV," which can be viewed by clicking on the "Look inside" feature on Amazon at:

If you would like to receive or sponsor bound coloring books and printed placemats and flyers for your classroom or family (rather than downloading the materials available for free online), or to have Lisa Saunders speak to your group or view her PowerPoint presentation online, contact her at: LisaSaunders42@gmail.com or visit: congenitalcmv.blogspot.com.
Lisa Saunders
P.O Box 389
Mystic, CT 06355