The ‘silent virus’ that all pregnant mums should know about

PREGNANT mums have been urged to know the signs of a 'silent virus' that could, in severe cases, lead to stillbirths.

Cytomegalovirus, also known as CMV is a common virus which is usually harmless.

The NHS says that it can sometimes present issues if you contract it during pregnancy.

The infection is related to the herpes virus that causes both chickenpox and cold sores.

Once you have it, it stays in your body for the rest of your life.

Most people don't know they have it as their immune system is able to control the infection, which is why it is known as the silent virus.

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But CMV can cause serious issues in babies who get the virus before birth, with severe complications including developmental delay, hearing loss and brain injury.

The virus can easily be mistaken for other common illnesses, as most people will experience flu-like symptoms.

But some people, will also experience no symptoms at all.

For most people these symptoms will include:

  1. high temperature
  2. aching muscles
  3. tiredness
  4. skin rashes
  5. feeling sick
  6. sore throat
  7. swollen glands

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In the majority of cases, symptoms will go away on their own within three weeks.

One mum has now urged pregnant women and those hoping to conceive to be wary of the virus, after she was forced to terminate her pregnancy due to the condition.

Anthea Marsh contracted the virus after her husband had been unwell with it.

Doctors in Australia, where the couple are based, told them that because their baby had been conceived while her husband had the virus, that there was a very small chance of having a healthy baby.

Andrea, who previously suffered a miscarriage told ABC that she had never been told about the virus before this and that it would be a risk if she fell pregnant.

She added: "[It] was probably the hardest decision we have ever had to make, especially after a miscarriage."

TRANMISSION

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG), previously highlighted that all pregnant women, and women trying to conceive should be given information on the virus.

Obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Kelly van den Haspel said catching the virus is difficult, as testing for it is tricky and there is no treatment for it.

She explained that the greatest risk is when a pregnant woman who has never had the virus catches it.

"Generally, the risk of transmission through the placenta and to your baby is much lower if it's a reactivation of an infection.

"So definitely a primary infection in the first half of pregnancy has that biggest risk of transmission through the placenta and to infect your baby", Dr van den Haspel explained.

REDUCE YOUR RISK

While you're at a greater risk of contracting the virus in the first half of pregnancy, there are ways you can prevent it.

The NHS says that you should wash your hands using soap and water – especially after changing nappies, feeding young children or wiping their nose.

They also urged parents to regularly wash toys or other items that may have young children's saliva or urine on them.

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You should also avoid sharing food, cutlery and drinking glasses or putting a child's dummy in your mouth and you should avoid kissing young children on their mouth.

Pregnant women who work closely with children or already have a young family are more at risk of getting CMV and there is currently no vaccine for the virus.

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