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Reduce your risk of CMV infection in pregnancy

Cytomegalovirus, or CMV, is a known cause of cerebral palsy, epilepsy, deafness and other disabilities, yet it remains mostly unknown in the community. Every year, we campaign to change this, joining forces with CMV Australia to build awareness of CMV prevention strategies throughout June, which is CMV Awareness Month.

What is CMV?

CMV is a common virus. When healthy people are infected they frequently have no symptoms. CMV is spread from person-to-person through contact with saliva, urine, tears, nasal mucus and intimate contact. Infected infants and young children, who may otherwise remain well, can easily pass this virus on to others.

Therefore, people who care for or work with young children are at increased risk of infection through activities like nappy changes. If a pregnant woman is infected with CMV, there is a risk that her unborn baby will also become infected. This is called congenital CMV (cCMV).

CMV can cause injury to the baby’s developing brain. In Australia, more than 400 babies every year are born with a life-long disability caused by CMV – but despite this, research has found that just 14% of Australian women aged 20-40 have heard of CMV.

Easy ways to care

There are simple hygiene strategies to reduce the risk of CMV infection in pregnancy, which can also reduce the risk of other common illnesses like cold and flu. Proven ways to reduce the risk of transmitting CMV for pregnant women include:

Wash with care. Kiss with care. Done share.
  • Wash with care: washing your hands for at least 15 seconds, especially after contact with urine or saliva of young children during activities like changing nappies, blowing noses, or handling children’s toys, dummies
  • Kiss with care: avoiding contact with saliva when kissing a child – instead, try a kiss on the forehead
  • Don’t share: not sharing food, drinks, cutlery, toothbrushes or dummies with young children
Pregnant mother holding a baby and kissing it on the head

Congenital CMV Network e-Bulletin

To stay up to date with CMV awareness, education and research news.

Case studies: how CMV affects real families

Catherine and Kirsten

Read more

Pam and Christopher

Miff and Azaria’s story

Bree’s journey

Kate and her twins

CMV video resources

CMV Awareness Videos (with or without captions) that can be shown in clinic waiting rooms. We can freely provide these videos to run in your clinic waiting areas. Please request through our online form.

In Australia, around 2,000 children every year will be born with CMV – making it the most common infectious cause of disabilities. A common virus, CMV is a known cause of epilepsy, deafness and cerebral palsy.

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CMV brochures and further information

Resources in other languages

CPA embraces and respects our multicultural community. We have translated the ‘Reducing the risk of CMV during pregnancy’ brochure into five languages: ArabicChinese (Simplified)Chinese (Traditional)HindiVietnamese

Download these as pdfs and/or request free printed copies through our online form.

Congenital CMV e-Learning course for midwives

As a result of a partnership with Cerebral Palsy Alliance, The University of Sydney, CMV Australia and the Australian College of Midwives, a new free eLearning course: Congenital Cytomegalovirus (CMV) – Prevention is in Your Hands is now available. Developed with midwives, obstetricians, infectious diseases specialists, researchers and families who have been impacted by CMV, this interactive course aims to update midwives on how CMV can adversely affect babies and highlight preventive strategies for reducing the risk of infection during pregnancy.

CMV and cerebral palsy research

Congenital CMV is a known cause of cerebral palsy. Our researchers from the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute, The University of Sydney are committed to collaborating with other investigators, professional organisations and advocacy groups to:

  • Understand more about the role of congenital CMV and its relationship with other risk factors for cerebral palsy
  • Increase community awareness of CMV and the available prevention strategies, particularly amongst mothers and those planning a family
  • Support health professionals to embed congenital CMV infection prevention strategies into routine pregnancy counselling

This work is possible thanks to partnerships with our wonderful collaborators and funding support through the NH&MRC, the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation and our passionate donors.