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Another Mom Didn't Know Daycare Danger

Women know not to change kitty litter when pregnant. How can I let them know to be careful when changing a baby?

I just went to the hospital to visit yet another new mom who didn't know that she was putting her pregnancy at risk by working at a daycare center. I too wasn't warned by my OB/GYN about the precautions I should have taken if working with young children. My daughter, Elizabeth, was born severely disabled by the virus in 1989. She died at the age of 16, leaving me heartbroken.

I have been trying to reach doctors with the message they should warn their patients about congenial CMV (cytomegalovirus), but perhaps I should spend more time trying to get day care centers to warn their workers, as is done on cigarette and alcohol labels. Or perhaps I should fight for signs in restrooms stating that certain infections can harm unborn children--therefore the necessity of hand washing after changing diapers, wiping noses, etc. I welcome any ideas from the community. Everyone knows not to change the kitty litter when they are pregnant. How can we let the country know that the saliva and urine of children needs to be handled cautiously?

I have written the following press release to let organizations know of my availability as a free local speaker on how to prevent the #1 viral cause of birth defects:

Author Lectures on #1 Birth Defects Virus—More Common Than Down Syndrome

"What you don't know can hurt your unborn baby"

Author and mother of child born disabled by congenital CMV, Lisa Saunders of Mystic, CT, is available to speak on how to prevent the #1 viral cause of birth defects, which causes more disabilities than Down syndrome.

According to the CDC:

  • Every hour, congenital CMV causes one child to become disabled
  • Each year, about 30,000 children are born with congenital CMV infection
  • About 1 in 750 children is born with or develops permanent disabilities due to CMV
  • About 8,000 children each year suffer permanent disabilities caused by CMV

Lisa Saunders didn’t know about CMV prevention until her daughter, Elizabeth, was born severely disabled by the virus in 1989. Elizabeth had cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and was mentally, visually and hearing impaired. While pregnant, Saunders ran a licensed daycare in her home while raising a toddler.

Saunders spoke at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, G.A., at the international 2008 Congenital CMV Conference. She said, “Mothers at the conference were coming up to me after my speech, with their children in wheelchairs or wearing hearing aids, and asked, ‘Why didn’t my OB/GYN warn me how to protect my baby from CMV? Why haven't you done more to shout it from the rooftops?’”

Few women have heard of congenital CMV (cytomegalovirus) and more than half of OB/GYNs surveyed admitted they don't warn their patients about it.The CDC makes the following recommendations on simple steps you can take to avoid exposure to saliva and urine that might contain CMV:

1. Wash your hands often with soap and water for 15-20 seconds, especially after

  • changing diapers
  • feeding a young child
  • wiping a young child’s nose or drool
  • handling children’s toys

2. Do not share food, drinks, or eating utensils used by young children

3. Do not put a child’s pacifier in your mouth

4. Do not share a toothbrush with a young child

5. Avoid contact with saliva when kissing a child

6. Clean toys, countertops, and other surfaces that come into contact with children’s urine or saliva

Saunders said, "Until OB/GYNs make CMV prevention a standard practice of care, I'm trying to "shout it from the rooftops" through my memoir, “Anything But a Dog! The perfect pet for a girl with congenital CMV.” I hope to reach a general audience by sharing the unusual account of how a big, homeless older dog found his way to my disabled daughter's couch. I also include CMV prevention and treatment tips from the country’s leading CMV experts. The first chapter is available for free viewing in Amazon’s e-book version

See Lisa Saunders interviewed on the news regarding congenital CMV.

To learn more about the congenital CMV community of doctors and families, visit Saunders' CMV blog

The next international congenital CMV conference, where doctors, researchers and families will gather, will be held in San Francisco, California, Mon., Oct.29 - Fri., Nov. 2, 2012. A major objective of the meeting is to allow relatives caring for CMV patients to learn as much as possible from the most dedicated specialists in the world. The conference organizers have devised a special registration fee for up to four family members to attend.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Suzanne JD April 18, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Very interesting article. I don't understand the complacency of doctors when it comes to this issue. And, I would suggest, it is not only OB-GYN's that interact with pregnant women. How about the pediatricians, the general practioners, the pharmacist that fills the pre-natal vitamins, the social worker, the phlebotomist who draws their blood, etc. I guess my point is, everyone should be asking a pregnant woment, "Did you know...?" In fact, last Easter Sunday, I did just that. There was a young woman who was pregnant at the brunch and I asked her if she new about CMV. You will be happy hear that she had indeed heard about the virus. However, she learned about it by reading the "new pregnancy" pamphlet given to her - her doctor did not specifically mention it to her. Surely, a lot of room for raising awareness.
Lisa Saunders April 18, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Doctors and healthcare workers often say they don't want to frighten women by telling them about the virus. I would much rather be a little frightened and keep my hand sanitizer handy than watch a child go through what my daughter did. I'm encouraged to hear that there are at least some doctors including the info in a pamphlet. And you are right, more health care professionals should get involved--especially since they will see a woman before she gets pregnant. Really, knowing what I know now, if I was planning to become pregnant, I would ask a doctor to test my blood for the virus. You don't want to have an active infection right before conceiving.

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