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Silent CMV virus a rare, dangerous risk for unborn; efforts mount to test & raise awareness

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CHICAGO - The virus is common and usually harmless. But in a rare, unlucky set of circumstances, it can be devastating for infants whose mothers become infected during pregnancy.

The complications include brain damage, deafness and other birth defects. But because those complications are so rare, most people have never heard of CMV — shorthand for cytomegalovirus.

Infectious disease specialists, parents of affected children and, now, some legislators are trying to spread awareness about the virus. Utah has the only law in the nation that mandates a CMV educational campaign.

Pregnant women who contract the virus often get it from young children, who tend to be more contagious than adults. Health officials recommend not sharing food, utensils or toothbrushes used by young children and thorough hand-washing after changing diapers.

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