We have previously written about cytomegalovirus (CMV), a member of the herpes family, but not in enough depth to help future parents from understanding the dangers of the congenital form.
Here are the basics on what you should know about the disease, including symptoms, treatments, and preventative measures.
What Exactly is Congenital Cytomegalovirus?
When a disease is congenital, it means it is present when a child is born. Cytomegalovirus occurs in infants infected with cytomegalovirus (CMV) before they are born. The infection is passed from a mother to the fetus through the placenta. Many women do not know they have the disease because they don’t show symptoms, which makes it dangerous for expectant women.
Symptoms of Cytomegalovirus in Infants
Like infected women, many infants don’t show symptoms either, but the ones that do may suffer from:
- Retina inflammation
- A large liver and spleen
- A low weight at birth
- Brain issues in the form of mineral deposits
- A rash
- Small heads
Some children die while during infancy. Others are blind or have vision problems. Some find it hard to move and perform physical activities. The disease causes problem but can be avoided.
Detecting & Treating CMV
An exam can detect pneumonia and other abnormalities in breathing, enlarged liver and spleen, and psychomotor retardation which is attributed to congenital cytomegalovirus. This is done in a number of different ways including an x-ray of the chest, an ultrasound of the head, a urine culture for the first few weeks of the baby’s life, and a fundoscopy.
Treatment for congenital cytomegalovirus varies from one case to another. Physical therapy and education for children with movements that are delayed is often recommended. Medication is also used for infants with congenital cytomegalovirus.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following preventative measures:
- When dealing with diaper or saliva, always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water.
- Avoid kissing children ages six years old and younger on the cheek and mouth.
- Do not share drinks, food, and eating utensils with young kids.
- Day care center operators that are pregnant should not work with children under the age of two and a half.
Congenital cytomegalovirus is a serious disease. It harms children and women but can be avoided. By knowing what symptoms to look for and which preventative measures to take, the spread of the virus reduces making it less of a threat for mothers and infants.