Another virus threatens unborn babies

- Early in her pregnancy, Anna Leigh Duncan got sick.

"Runny nose, achy body, very achy body just like a strong cold almost a flu," she explained.

It wasn’t until her four-month ultrasound doctors discovered problems with her baby's liver and spleen. There were also four cysts in the baby's tiny brain.

Doctors did several blood tests. At first they thought it could be cystic fibrosis or Down syndrome, but both came back negative. A different blood test uncovered something Anna Leigh didn’t expect.

Her baby had a viral infection called cytomegalovirus, or CMV.

"I never heard of CMV. I googled CMV and the things that come up for it are terrifying," she said.

Her daughter, Jordan was in trouble. She was born by emergency cesarean at Tampa General and spent three weeks in the NICU.

Jordan was actively infected with CMV when she was born. Every year, 30,000 babies in the U.S. are born with CMV infections.

According to the CDC, CMV is not easily spread. It is passed from an infected person through contact with bodily fluids like urine, saliva, or breast milk. CMV can be transmitted through sexual activity. It can also be passed from person to person through transplanted organs and blood transfusions.

USF Health Infectious Disease Specialist, Dr. Carina Rodriquez said, while most babies have no symptoms, about 10-percent will have significant medical problems.

"There may be hepatitis, some patients may be born smaller, with smaller heads, or they can have some hearing loss or problem with their eye," Dr. Rodriguez explained.

She added, some effects may take years to develop.

Scientific studies do not yet support routine screening of pregnant moms. However, Anna Leigh believes all moms should know about CMV.

"Not knowing about this virus was the worst part, not knowing. Not knowing what could happen, and still not knowing what could happen," she said.

Jordan takes medicine twice a day to help fight the virus. She also gets regular blood tests and Anna Leigh says her liver inflammation is gone. Her wish is for every woman in the world to know about CMV and get tested.

"I don't want any other mother to go through what I went through," Duncan said. 

For more information on CMV go to http://www.Cdc.Gov/cmv/index.Html

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