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Lisa Saunders

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February: International Prenatal Infection Prevention Month. Teachers, Caregivers, Know Risk for CMV, Says Lisa Saunders. CDC Warns CMV Can be in Saliva of Young Child.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists cytomegalovirus (CMV) as one of four prenatal infections on its webpage, "Protect Your Unborn Baby or Newborn from Infections": Cytomegalovirus, Group B strep, Listeriosis, and Zika virus.

Mystic, CT, February 07, 2019 --( February is International Prenatal Infection Prevention Month. The leading viral cause of birth defects is cytomegalovirus (CMV).

According to the CDC, "A pregnant woman infected with CMV can pass the virus to her baby during pregnancy. About one out of every 200 babies is born with congenital CMV infection. However, only about one in five babies with congenital CMV infection will be sick from the virus or have long-term health problems. CMV is passed from infected people to others through body fluids, such as saliva, urine, blood...Infants and young children are more likely to shed CMV in their saliva and urine than older children and adults. Women may be able to lessen their risk of getting CMV by reducing contact with saliva and urine from babies and young children. Some ways to do this are by not sharing food and utensils with babies and young children, and washing hands after changing diapers."

"It's been 13 years since my daughter Elizabeth died during a seizure at age 16," says Lisa Saunders, leader of the Child Care Providers Education Committee, National CMV Foundation. "Epilepsy was one of Elizabeth's many health complications because I caught CMV just before or during my pregnancy with her. At the time, I was a child care provider, church nursery volunteer and the mother of a toddler, yet I didn't know about CMV. I always washed my hands after changing diapers, but too busy chasing toddlers to get to the sink after wiping noses and picking up toys, I used diaper wipes to clean off my hands, not realizing they don’t effectively remove CMV. Had I known about CMV, I would have taken extra precautions. The prevalence of CMV in child care is a very inconvenient truth."

“Almost all the babies that I see who have congenital CMV, there is an older toddler at home who is in daycare. That is a very common presentation: the mom gets her primary infection through her older child who is in daycare and that is when it goes to the baby,” said Dr. Jason Brophy, a pediatric infectious disease specialist, in the Ottawa Citizen (Payne, 2018).

"Children enrolled in child care facilities are more likely to acquire CMV than are children cared for at home” (American Academy of Pediatrics, et al., "Caring for Our Children," modified 2017).

On average, 30-40% of preschoolers in day care excrete CMV in their saliva and/or urine ("Red Book: 2015 Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases," American Academy of Pediatrics, p. 144).

Although Saunders helped get a CMV testing law passed in Connecticut in 2015, CMV prevention remains little known--even among child care providers and early childhood education teachers who have an occupational risk for it. "So many people respond to my CMV warnings, 'If CMV was a problem, my doctor would have told me.'"

One reason doctors in the U.S. don’t routinely discuss CMV is they don’t want to worry or “burden” women. According to the New York Times article, “CMV Is a Greater Threat to Infants Than Zika, but Far Less Often Discussed,” "Guidelines from ACOG [American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists] suggest that pregnant women will find CMV prevention 'impractical and burdensome,' especially if they are told not to kiss their toddlers on the mouth — a possible route of transmission” (Saint Louis, 2016).

The American Academy of Pediatrics, et al., states: “Female employees of childbearing age should be referred to their primary health care provider or to the health department authority for counseling about their risk of CMV infection. This counseling may include testing for serum antibodies to CMV to determine the employee’s immunity against CMV is also important for the child care center director to inform infant caregivers/teachers of the increased risk of exposure to CMV during pregnancy” ("Caring for Our Children,” AAP et al., modified 2017,

CMV Prevention Education Materials Available:

*Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

*American Academy of Pediatrics et al., “Staff Education and Policies on Cytomegalovirus” from book, "Caring for Children":

*National CMV Foundation:

*CMV blog maintained by Lisa Saunders:

*Free Online Prenatal Infection Prevention Symposium: Everyone in the world is welcome to "attend" an online, free of charge, Prenatal Infection Prevention Symposium, February 25 - 28, 2019. Lisa Saunders will present, “Help Child Care Providers Fight Cytomegalovirus (CMV): Protect Newborns From #1 Birth Defects Virus,” on Tuesday, February 26, and will respond to questions about her presentation that day. The Prenatal Infection Prevention Symposium is a collaborative partnership between Group B Strep International and Star Legacy Foundation, both nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations working towards more babies being born healthy and staying healthy. CME credit will be available for physicians and midwives. Register at:
Contact Information
Lisa Saunders
P.O. Box 389
Mystic, CT 06355

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