An expectant mother who shares food or drink bottlers with her toddler can put her unborn child at risk of a common virus that can lead to disability or death.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common viral infection that usually goes unnoticed or only causes mild symptoms in most people.
However, unborn babies who contract the virus in-utero can be born with physical and developmental disabilities that include hearing loss, epilepsy and cerebral palsy.
Despite CMV being the most infectious cause of disability in newborn babies and 20 times more common than listeria or toxoplasmosis, only one in six pregnant women have heard of it.
The virus is spread through contact with bodily fluids such as urine, saliva and nasal mucous.
Pregnant women are advised to avoid sharing drinks and cutlery with young children, avoid contact with saliva when kissing a child, and wash their hands for at least 15 seconds after changing nappies, blowing noses, or handling children’s toys and dummies.
After Pam Rogers, 34, contracted CMV she was advised to terminate her pregnancy after doctors said her son’s brain had not formed properly and he would die after birth.
Christopher, now 8, defied all odds and living with multiple disabilities.
Mrs Rogers believed some held the opinion that telling expectant mothers about CMV would cause mass hysteria, but she said it was a mother’s right to be properly educated and choose what to do with the information.
“Don’t tell me what I can and cannot know about. Don’t censor things … It should be about empowering women. We need to give pregnant women more credit.
“It frustrating that (CMV) is not widely talked about and people aren’t educated when it affects people so widely.”