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CMV: Health experts 'not confident' about providing advice on pregnancy virus risk



Many Australian medical professionals aren't confident talking to pregnant women about how to prevent a common virus in babies that can causes disabilities, new research has found.

Almost 2,000 Australian children are born with cytomegalovirus (CMV) each year, contracted through their mothers.

Hundreds of those will be deaf, blind or diagnosed with other physical or intellectual disabilities.

Pam Rogers gave birth to her son Christopher four years ago. His heart and lungs were affected, as well as being born with cerebral palsy, epilepsy and hearing loss.

Ms Rogers said her son was so sick when he was born, he was not expected to live — but he had defied the odds.

She has found many doctors and nurses don't know much about CMV.

"Even now when we have to take Christopher to an emergency department in a hospital, we have to explain CMV to the medical staff," she said.

"We don't want to scare women but doctors and medical staff need to let pregnant women know that getting the virus can severely affect their baby.

"My husband and I have had to have very difficult conversations about palliative care for our son, and that's not something any parent should have to do."

Virologist Dr William Rawlinson from UNSW said all pregnant women and healthcare providers should be educated about CMV.

"We know CMV is the most common infectious congenital cause of illness in infants, and we need to provide information to parents about how to prevent contracting it," he said.

Do you know more about this story? Email Specialist.Team@abc.net.au
What is CMV?

CMV is transmitted through body fluids, including saliva, blood, tears, urine and breast milk.

Simple prevention measures include washing hands around young children and avoiding contact with saliva when kissing children.

Young children and toddlers often have the virus but don't always show symptoms, such as a runny nose or temperature.

Research by Dr Antonia Shand from the Royal Hospital for Women in Sydney found two-thirds of Australian and New Zealand maternity-care providers did not feel confident in providing advice to women about CMV.

"Clinicians had inadequate knowledge about prevention strategies and a lack of awareness of transmission routes," the study found.

The research surveyed nearly 780 GPs, midwives and specialists.

Nearly 90 per cent of respondents thought more patient information, such as leaflets, was needed, and medical groups, such as the College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and midwives' associations, should provide advice on CMV to their members.

"Less than 10 per cent of maternal clinicians routinely gave advice [to pregnant women] on prevention," the study found.

How can pregnant women protect against it?

Wash hands often with soap and running water for at least 15 seconds and dry them thoroughly — particularly after close contact with young children, changing nappies, blowing noses, feeding a young child, and handling children's toys, dummies/soothers.

Do not share food, drinks, eating utensils or toothbrushes with young children. Avoid contact with saliva when kissing a child.

Use simple detergent and water to clean toys and surfaces used by children.

Children and adults with healthy immune systems do not usually develop symptoms when infected, but may develop an illness similar to glandular fever with tiredness, sore throat, swollen glands and fever.

People with a weakened immune system are more likely to develop symptoms.

If a woman is newly infected with CMV while pregnant, there is a risk her unborn baby will also become infected and may be born with a disability.

The highest risk to the unborn baby occurs when a woman who has never had CMV before is infected with the virus during pregnancy and when infection occurs during the first half of the pregnancy.

https://www.geezgo.com/sps/28098
CMV: Health experts 'not confident' about providing advice on pregnancy virus risk Reviewed by Chidinma C Amadi on 5:57 PM Rating: 5

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