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June is National Congenital CMV Awareness Month

1 in 150 Children is Born with CMV--A Common Virus that Causes Disabilities

May 25, 2010 – June is National Congenital CMV Awareness Month. Stop CMV, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness of congenital CMV (cytomegalovirus), wants to increase CMV’s public profile to save thousands of children from disability and death. The “Hands to Stop CMV” Awareness Campaign is aiming to collect photographs of people with "Stop CMV" written on their hand to be posted online for public viewing and voting during the month of June. The photo receiving the most public votes will be featured in public service announcements for Stop CMV. Two guest judges, Andrea Dunham (Creative Director for Women’s Health magazine) and Luke Duval (Fashion, Beauty, and Celebrity Photographer) will select additional winners.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 1 in every 150 children is born with congenital CMV. CMV is the most common congenital (meaning present at birth) infection in the United States and is the most common cause of birth defects and disabilities, including deafness, blindness, cerebral palsy, mental and physical disabilities, seizures, and death. CMV is a common virus, present in saliva, urine, tears, blood, and mucus, and is carried by 70 percent of healthy infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and children who contract the virus from their peers. About 60 percent of women are at risk for contracting CMV during pregnancy, posing a major risk to mothers, daycare workers, preschool teachers, therapists, and nurses.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the CDC recommend that OB/GYNs counsel women on basic prevention measures to guard against CMV infection. These include frequent hand washing, not kissing young children on the mouth, and not sharing food, towels, or utensils with them. “Stop CMV understands how difficult it may be to adjust ones daily routine while pregnant,” says Janelle Greenlee, president and founder of Stop CMV and mother of twin daughters born with congenital CMV. “But it is so important for these messages to be communicated to pregnant women to inform and empower them to take a more active role in their personal hygiene and healthcare decisions.”

A 2008 survey reported that only 14 percent of women had heard of congenital CMV, with very few aware of prevention measures. Women's awareness of CMV ranks last among other birth defects and common childhood illnesses despite CMV being one of the most common and most serious causes of birth defects and disabilities. The CDC reports incidence of congenital CMV as similar to that of Autism (1 in 150), and higher than Down Syndrome (1 in 3,357), Spina Bifida (1 in 2,500), and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (1.5 in 1,000).

Since 2003, Stop CMV has been working to foster congenital CMV awareness via internet and public awareness campaigns. The mission of Stop CMV and The CMV Action Network is to prevent and eliminate congenital CMV and to improve the lives of all people affected by congenital CMV. For more information about Stop CMV and The CMV Action Network, please contact press@stopcmv.org.

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