According to a report issued by University College London, pregnant women may unwittingly be passing infections on to their unborn child as a result of contracting a virus from their other offspring.

The report outlines the causes and effects of cytomegalovirus, a virus which can lie dormant in a woman’s body for several years and infects up to 60% of the public at some point in their lives.

According to research, CMV, which is in the same virus group as herpes, can result in epilepsy, cerebral palsy and hearing loss, and is most generally passed on through bodily fluids.

Commenting on the research, Professor Paul Griffiths, author of the report and virology specialist at UCL, said: “While CMV rarely poses problems for an otherwise healthy child or adult, the consequences of infection with this virus during pregnancy can be devastating for the unborn child.”

Eager to placate fears and concerns, Professor Griffith insists awareness and vigilance are paramount in reducing risk, saying: “There is a substantial body of evidence available that shows that we can effectively reduce the risk of transmission with really simple steps.”

The researcher advises pregnant woman that simple hygiene precautions go a long way towards reducing the risk of transmission and advises mothers not to share food from their children’s plates and to thoroughly wash their hands after nappy changing.

Professor Griffiths insists GPs and healthcare professionals be vocal when communicating the risks associated with the virus, asserting: “All healthcare professionals responsible for the care of pregnant women must do all they can to make sure that women know about CMV, and what they can do to reduce their chances of becoming infected.”

While trials are currently being put in place in order to develop a vaccine which eradicates the virus, they will not go into operation until much later in the future.

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