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CMV a risk in child care.

CMV a risk in child care

Women of childbearing age who care for children below 3 years of age in daycare centers face a serious occupational risk: exposure to a virus that can cause birth defects. A study of 610 women working at 34 day-care centers in the Richmond, Va., area shows that these individuals, compared with 565 female hospital workers their age, face five times the risk of acquiring cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection. In adults and toddlers, this herpesvirus usually causes nothing more than flu-like symptoms. But in babies whose mothers become infected during the first six months of pregnancy, it can cause hearing loss and retardation.

Studies have shown that 25 to 60 percent of children in U.S. day-care acquire CMV, many without ever showing symptoms. They can then shed the virus in saliva for four weeks after infection and in urine for up to two years.

Stuart Adler, a virologist at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, reasoned that because toddlers require such intimate care, their caregivers might face a higher-than-usual CMV riks. In the Nov. 9 NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE, he confirms that the women who cared for the youngest children were significantly more likely to have been infected (46 percent) than women caring for children 3 years and odler (35 percent). Moreover, during the two years these women were studied, the rate of new infection was 11 percent among the caretakers of these youngest children, compared with 2.5 percent among the hospital workers.

Adler advises day-care workers who are pregnant or anticipating pregnancy to take special care to wear plastic gloves when handling diapers, to wash their hands after wiping runny noses, and to avoid kisses in the nose and mouth area.
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Title Annotation:cytomegalovirus
Author:Raloff, J.
Publication:Science News
Date:Nov 18, 1989
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