Centers for Disease Control estimates 50 to 80 percent of adults have been infected with cytomegalovirus, or CMV, a common viral infection.
CMV usually strikes in childhood, sometimes causing mild flu-like symptoms, but often no symptoms and no problems unless the first infection happens during pregnancy.
Dr. Mark Schleiss, an infectious disease specialist, stated "CMV is the second most common cause of mental retardation in children after Down’s syndrome and is the most common infection that cause deafness in babies."
Birth defects that affect 10 to 15 percent of babies whose mothers develop CMV while pregnant.
Dr. Schleiss is working on a vaccine.
He added, "The goal of this vaccine is to try to confer immunity to a woman before delivery and then prevent transmission of CMV to the developing baby.”
But human trials may be years away and for now, Dr. Schleiss says education is the best strategy.
Dr. Schleiss says, "There are some women who are at increased risk for infection and transmission, and I think it all has to start with a dialogue between women and her primary care provider or her obstetrician.”
Today, CMV testing is not part of routine prenatal testing.
However, experts recommend women who are considering getting pregnant, especially those who work around children, talk about testing with their doctor.