LAWTON, OK (KSWO)- June is national CMV Awareness Month. According to the national CMV website, about one out of every 150 babies are born with congenital CMV infection. While most babies show no signs or symptoms, for some it can cause major health problems, and even worse, death.
Cara Gluck found out her son Parker had congenital cytomegalovirus, or CMV after he was born.
"We had an unremarkable pregnancy, and then I went into labor at 37 weeks. And when he was born he had some difficulties," said Gluck.
Parker's condition prompted doctors to transfer them to the NICU.
"He had blood spots from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet. He had trouble regulating his body temperature. He had very low platelets. He had an enlarged liver and an enlarged spleen," explained Gluck.
It wasn't until her son was 5 days old that they found out that it was congenital CMV.
Gluck says it is a very common virus, and by the time you are 40, around 80 percent of the population has already been exposed.
"A healthy person being exposed to the virus, you have very mild symptoms, if any. Maybe cold like, flu-like symptoms. You have the virus for a few days. It goes away and nothing big. And the anti-bodies stay in your system," said Gluck.
According to the CDC, Women can pass CMV to their baby during pregnancy. The virus in the woman's blood can cross through the placenta and infect the baby.
"The virus then attacks the fetal brain development, as well as large organ development and those type of things," said Gluck.
Children born with CMV can have hearing loss, vision loss, enlarged liver or spleen, a small head, and cognitive delays. Congenital CMV is the leading cause of cerebral palsy, which is what Parker developed. But Gluck says it hasn't held him back from being just like other kids.
"He gets around very well. He is a very affectionate little boy. A typical little boy who loves Toy Story, and Mickey Mouse, Dr. Suess. He loves being with his sister. He loves running and playing outside," said Gluck.
However, Gluck says they do keep a close eye on Parker.
"CMV is very progressive in the aspect of he may not have hearing loss at birth. Doesn't have it now, but he could experience it and it could develop it later throughout his childhood," said Gluck.
She says while there is currently no vaccine to help prevent the virus. Following simple public health safety tips can help with prevention.
"Children in a day care center setting. Ages 1 to 5 are the leading transmitters of the virus. And so if you're a pregnant woman, and you are around small children, making sure that you are washing your hands very effectively, not sharing utensils, not sharing drinks, not putting pacifiers in your mouth, not kissing small children on the mouth," said Gluck.
Gluck is also an advocate for children with CMV and wants to raise awareness about the virus. She recommends from her experience that every woman who is pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant should ask her doctor to be screened for CMV.
"We need to be talking about it. Pregnant women need to be educated about it, because we don't educate. And know the steps that they can take to prevent exposure to their unborn child," said Gluck.
The 3rd annual 1,2,3 Wash Away CMV Awareness Family Fun Run and Walk will be held on Saturday, June 24th at 8:30 in the morning at Cameron University's aggie mile. It is to help raise awareness of the virus. It is $15 to participate in the run, and you can register online at active.com, or find a link to register on their Facebook page.