Congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection affects 1 in 150 live births in the U.S., and 1 in 750 newborns suffer lifelong, debilitating injuries such as hearing loss, vision loss or cognitive impairment as a result of those infections. Preventing CMV infection in babies can be as simple as instructing new mothers to wash their hands thoroughly after diaper changes — 90% of OB-GYNs report their knowledge of this fact, but only 60% routinely counsel patients regarding hand-washing. Only 44% counsel their patients specifically about CMV prevention. These findings are the result of research published recently in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), a publication of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Researchers also report that while more than 50% of OB-GYNs understand that sharing utensils with a newborn raises the risk of CMV infection, only about 30% ever share that information with new parents. Furthermore, authors of the study warn that since the physicians in this study self-reported their behaviors, it is feasible that some claimed to have a better understanding of CMV infections than they actually do — which could mean that OB-GYN understanding of these issues is actually worse than the data suggests.
While there is presently no cure or vaccination for CMV, you can prevent infections by taking some simple precautions. Experts at the Mayo Clinic offer the following tips for infection prevention:
"Carefully wash your hands often. Use soap and water for 15 to 20 seconds, especially if you have contact with children or their diapers, drool or other oral secretions. This is especially important if the children attend child care.
Avoid contact with tears and saliva when you kiss a young child. A hug or a kiss on the head is adequate and may cause no risk. During pregnancy, a kiss on the cheek should be given only on clean skin.
Avoid drinking out of the same glass. Sharing glasses and kitchen utensils can spread the CMV virus.
Be careful with disposable items. When disposing of diapers, tissues and other items that have been contaminated with bodily fluids, be careful not to touch your hands to your face until after thoroughly washing your hands."
Previously on the DC Metro Area Medical Malpractice Law Blog, we have posted articles related to:
- A new study linking preeclampsia to heart disease risk
- Recent data indicating that 1 in 8 babies are born prematurely
- Results of the first comprehensive survey of maternal depression
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