|Public Awareness and Vaccine Research Support. Working Together to Eradicate Congenital CMV Disease.
Member of the External Partner Group, in conjunction with the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental
Disabilities (NCBDDD) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
|The Brendan B. McGinnis Congenital CMV Foundation is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) dedicated to
raising public awareness about congenital CMV, to raise donations to support research for a vaccine
for CMV, and to affect change in the medical community so that physicians will begin to test women
for CMV prior to pregnancy. Ultimately, our mission is to save babies yet to be born from suffering
the often devastating consequences of congenital CMV by eradicating this common but potentially
WHAT IS CYTOMEGALOVIRUS?
CMV is a common virus that approximately 50% to 80% of adults in America have by the time they are 40
years of age. It is often asymptomatic, meaning showing no symptoms. CMV is a virus in the herpesvirus
family, a group of related viruses that includes Epstein-Barr Virus (mononucleosis virus) and Varicella Virus
(the virus that causes chickenpox). When CMV is contracted as a child or an adult, it is essentially harmless.
A person will subsequently build immunity to the virus once they have contracted it. However, there are
circumstances when the CMV virus can have disabling, even fatal, consequences. This happens when the
virus infects an immune compromised patient, such as a transplant patients, or when the virus infects an
WHAT IS CONGENITAL CMV?
Congenital CMV is the most common congenital (meaning present at birth) infection in the United States.
Congenital CMV is the term used in the situation when a newborn infant is positive for the CMV virus at the
time of birth, meaning that the virus was contracted with the baby was still in the womb. The virus is
transmitted to the unborn child via the placenta. The virus then enters the unborn baby's system, where it
can have devastating, even fatal, effects on the developing infant. The brain of the unborn baby is
particularly targeted by the virus, and infection results in a wide range of neurodevelopmental disabilities
such as those listed in the paragraph below.
WHAT DISABILITIES CAN CMV CAUSE IN BABIES AND CHILDREN?
Many babies are born with no apparent symptoms of congenital CMV. The symptoms can appear at birth or
later on as the baby develops. For example, the hearing loss often associated with congenital CMV may
occur months, if not years, after the baby's birth! And while the majority of babies born positive to
congenital CMV never develop symptoms or disabilities, there are still approximately 6,000 to 8, 000 babies
each year in the United States that will be disabled due to this virus. One out of every 750 children born in
the U.S. is born with or will become permanently disabled because of congenital CMV!
The brain of the unborn baby is particularly targeted by the virus, and infection results in a wide range of
neurodevelopmental disabilities, including deafness, microcephaly (small brain), cerebral palsy, blindness or
retinal scarring, intellectual disability, and seizures. Other developmental disabilities, such as autism, may be
due to CMV infection. Tragically, the most severely affected babies may not survive the effects of
congenital infection. There are approximately 400 fatal cases of CMV each year in the United States.
HOW IS CMV SPREAD?
CMV is spread through contact with human bodily fluids, such as urine, tears, blood, semen and saliva. As
with many other viruses, it may take only brief casual contact with a contaminated surface, object, or
person to acquire the infection. For example, all it may take is sharing a glass or eating utensil with an
individual who is actively contagious with CMV, or kissing a young child who has CMV in his/her saliva on the
mouth, and the virus can be transmitted. In fact, it is not uncommon for women to contract the virus for
the first time from their toddlers or pre-school aged children, who in turn have acquired the infection from
other children at school or in group day-care. The consequences of a primary (first time) CMV infection in a
young woman can be tragic if she is pregnant at the time acquiring the virus. Thus, women who have not
been exposed to CMV and have young children (or work with young children) are at higher risk if they are
considering a future pregnancy, particularly if their young children attend group daycare. Keep in mind, over
half of all expectant mothers in the U.S. have never contracted CMV, therefore have never built any
immunity to the virus. This puts their unborn baby at risk.
WHY HAVEN'T I HEARD OF CMV BEFORE NOW?
In short, there is no answer. One of the primary missions of the Brendan B. McGinnis Congenital CMV
Foundation is to educate women about CMV. Our foundation also aims to encourage the OB-GYN
community to have CMV counseling and testing become a standard part of every woman's care prior to
|About Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
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