Giving your child a goodnight kiss, or sharing a bite of his sandwich is a normal part of being a parent. But pregnant moms have been warned not to finish their young child’s dinner or give them a kiss goodnight as they could pass on a “stealth virus” to their unborn child.
Experts at St George's University of London say CMV (cytomegalovirus) can be transmitted through a child's saliva,which is often found on part-eaten food and picked up through kissing.
The virus puts babies at high risk of deafness, cerebral palsy and even cause developmental issues. The risk is just as high for babies who do not show symptoms. Close to 1,000 babies are affected by CMV annually. Approximately one in five babies with congenital CMV will have long term health problems.
"The most important message is not to come into contact with the saliva of a young child,” Dr Chrissie Jones told the Daily Mail."We would discourage women from sharing food. It's quite common for parents to finish uneaten meals, such as fish fingers."
"Don't kiss your children directly on the lips, kiss them on the forehead."
Scientists at St George’s, University of London have warned that it may put them at risk of cerebral palsy, deafness and developmental delay. Babies who are born with the infection but who do not show symptoms are still at risk of developing complications, such as deafness, later on in life, shares Daily Mail.
While there is currently no screening or vaccine for the virus, medics at St George’s, University of London, hope the trial will raise awareness of the infection among expectant mothers. The trial will have 400 mothers with a child under three years old watch an educational video highlighting the virus’ dangerous consequences to help raise awareness.
Most people infected with CMV show no signs or symptoms because healthy person’s immune system usually keeps the virus from causing illness. But CMV infection can cause serious health problems for people with weakened immune systems and for unborn babies (congenital CMV).
Babies born with CMV can have brain, liver, spleen, lung, and growth problems. The most common health problem in babies born with congenital CMV infection is hearing loss, which may be detected soon after birth or may develop later in childhood.
“For pregnant women, the most common way [to catch it] would be from a young child who is shedding the virus in urine and saliva. It's those children those are going to nursery or playgroup who are most likely to pick up CMV from another child,” said Dr. Jones.
Despite the risk posed, scientists have said CMV is unlikely to cause serious harm in the majority of cases. Still, it’s best to be cautious and aware.