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Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Awareness Month

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Baby undergoing a hearing test

CMV Awareness Month

June is CMV awareness month. We’re funding research to help develop a diagnostic device. Find out more about CMV and this research.

CMV (cytomegalovirus infection) computer illustration

What is CMV?

CMV or cytomegalovirus (si-to-MEG-alo-vi-rus) is a common virus that is harmless to most people but can be dangerous to unborn babies.

If you have or catch CMV when you are pregnant there is a very small chance that you can develop a CMV infection, which you may pass to your unborn baby.

Newborn baby

CMV and pregnancy

When a baby is born with a CMV infection, it's known as congenital CMV. Congenital describes a condition that the baby is born with that they developed in the womb.

Around 2,400 babies each year in the UK are born with congenital CMV.

It is estimated that 2–3 babies will be affected by CMV every day in the UK, almost 1,000 babies a year.

Mylo has been severely affected by CMV. Picture of his brother pushing him in his wheelchair.

1 in 5 will develop permanent long-term problems due to the infection.

These may include:

  • seizures (fits), epilepsy
  • hearing problems in 1 or both ears
  • problems with the eyes
  • problems with the liver and spleen
  • Cerebral palsy
  • ADHD
  • behavioural and learning difficulties
Professor Teng Swansea University will be leading the research

Research

There is currently no cure for CMV and early detection and prompt treatment is essential to help improve outcomes.

With Action funding, Professor Vincent Teng of Swansea University is aiming to develop a new device that could be used to identify newborn babies who have been infected.

The availability of an accurate, easy-to-use screening tool would allow the early detection of CMV in more babies, enabling timely treatment to help limit long-term disability.

CMV blood test vile

Help fund research

“This new technology would be ideal for large-scale screening of newborn babies who are at risk of future health problems, enabling early targeted intervention to help improve their outcomes.”

Professor Teng

Devastatingly, 5 out of every 1,000 babies born with CMV will die at birth or within their first year of life.

Young girl wearing hearing aids and cochlear implant

25% of child hearing loss is caused by CMV infection.

CMV is one of the leading causes of non-genetical hearing loss amongst other long-term complications following birth and is more common than Down’s Syndrome, Spina Bifida, Toxoplasmosis and Listeriosis.

Early detection of CMV is essential to start antiviral treatment before the baby is four weeks old. This may help to stop hearing loss from getting worse.