Cytomegalovirus, or CMV, is a common virus for people of all ages, and the most common infectious cause of birth defects in the U.S.

Over half of adults have been infected with CMV by the age of 40. While most people infected with CMV show no signs or symptoms, the effects of CMV become harmful when a baby is born with CMV. This is known as Congenital CMV. 

Congenital CMV causes birth defects such as hearing loss, developmental delay, vision loss, motor delay, seizures, microcephaly, and numerous other long-term health problems. About one out of every two hundred babies are born with congenital CMV. One in five babies with congenital CMV will experience long-term health problems.

CMV spreads through bodily fluids. In congenital CMV, a pregnant woman can transmit CMV to her unborn child through her blood. This can occur when a woman is infected with CMV for the first time or is re-infected with CMV while she is pregnant. Every pregnant woman is at risk of contracting CMV.

Parents of young children or caretakers of young children may be at a greater risk of contracting CMV, as young children are a common source of CMV. By age five, one in three children has been infected with CMV. Although they usually do not show symptoms, CMV can be present in a child’s body fluids for months after becoming infected. This puts individuals who are around young children, especially pregnant mothers, susceptible to infection.

To reduce the risk of CMV, the CDC recommends not sharing food, utensils, or cups with young children. Although this may not eliminate the risk of getting CMV, it can lessen the chances of getting it.

One child is permanently disabled by congenital CMV every hour. There is currently no vaccine to prevent CMV or effective treatment for those with CMV. The development of a vaccine to prevent CMV has been rated a high priority by the National Academy of Medicine.

Rochester Clinical Research is currently seeking volunteers for a clinical trial to find a vaccine to potentially prevent CMV. If you are between the ages of 16 and 40 years old and want to help create a future free of CMV click here to see if you qualify to join our research study.