Female childcare workers must be protected from virus that can harm their unborn children
I read with interest Megan Nix’ piece about life with her daughter born with congenital CMV. Unfortunately, Ms. Nix is one of too many mothers who first learn of CMV and its potentially catastrophic consequences only after birth. And there are means to prevent, reduce and eliminate such birth injuries. But without public knowledge of the desease and those prevention methods only more children and their families will suffer. CMV is the leading cause of cerebral palsy, as well as other birth defects in children, and less than 25% of woman of child bearing age have ever heard of the virus. For example, women of child bearing age employed in childcare for toddlers (less than 2 yrs. old) are at the highest risk for exposure to CMV because these children constantly shed the virus through excretions. And despite universal precautions including hand-washing, these childcare workers are constantly exposed. While generally harmless to healthy adults, CMV can be transmitted to unborn child in uterero. The risk and the necessity of appropriate warnings and counseling are well documented. However, the sad fact is that child care centers fail to warn their workers, and obstetricians fail to counsel such women about the risks of CMV exposure created in the work place or the need for CMV testing. As a trial attorney I have represented families to help them acquire the tremendous resources necessary to provide for the lifetime of care required by catastrophic birth injuries, including cerebral palsy caused by CMV.
As Ms. Nix wrote: “To protect your baby from CMV, first you have to know it exists.” Her writing and your publishing the article about her daughter is a helpful step in raising awareness about CMV. In the last few years, organizations such as the National CMV Foundation, have been founded to provide information, resources and a voice to raise public awareness about CMV. That is a good thing; it is a critical thing. Thank you Ms. Nix.