Most people have heard about Zika virus, which has been a major health concern for pregnant women in the past year.
But another virus, known as cytomegalovirus, or CMV, can also have devastating effects on the babies of pregnant moms.
What is CMV?
According to Salena Zanotti, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic, CMV, like many viruses, is usually spread by small children in schools and daycares.
She said most people have probably been exposed to it at some point in their lives, and the older a person is, the more likely that their body has already developed antibodies against it.
CMV is often difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are flu-like and generally include fever, muscle aches and fatigue. It’s usually not diagnosed unless it’s caught on an ultrasound.
Symptoms and complications
Dr. Zanotti said that although CMV is a common virus, complications from it are very rare.
About one out of every 150 babies are born with congenital CMV infection. However, according to the CDC, only about one in five babies with congenital CMV infection will be sick from the virus or will have long-term health problems.
However, those who are affected can have similar complications to those of Zika virus.
“If you would acquire CMV while you’re pregnant there is an increased risk for complications in pregnancies,” said Dr. Zanotti. “Those complications can be pre-term delivery, still births, and having babies with a lot of brain abnormalities and eye abnormalities.”
Dr. Zanotti said that like any virus, the best way to prevent it is with good hand hygiene.
“It’s good hygiene,” said Dr. Zanotti. “It’s washing your hands; especially if you are around children a lot, which I think most people try to be very careful. When you are pregnant, don’t share spoons and drinks with people, because you just don’t know.”
Dr. Zanotti reminds pregnant moms that the best thing they can do for a healthy pregnancy is to make sure they take their vitamins, get enough rest, wash their hands, avoid people that are sick and get their flu shot.