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Child as father of infection.

Child as father of infection

Parents of toddlers often get to go through a second childhood of sorts, suffering right along with their children a seemingly endless on slaught of infections. Robert F. Pass and his colleagues at the University of Alabama School of Medicine in Birmingham have identified one factor: day care centers. In the May 29 NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE, they describe a study of three day care centers with a high rate of cytomegalovirus infection. (Some day care centers have a higher rate of infection than others: transmission can be prevented by hand-washing after touching an infected child.)

Cytomegalovirus, or CMV, is a herpesvirus that generally causes, at most, coldlike symptoms and can be spread by contact with infected saliva or urine. It is very common, and is of concern only in pregnant women, who can pass it to their fetuses, and in individuals with suppressed immune systems. About 10 percent of the 36,000 CMV-infected infants born in the United States each year will have hearing loss, impaired vision or neuromuscular abnormalities.

For about a year and a half, the researchers observed parents of children in the day care centers, the children themselves and socioeconomically matched parents and children not associated with a day care center. Children of 46 of 67 initially CMV-free parents of day care attenders shed CMV during the study, and 14 of the parents (21 percent) became infected. In the home-care group, children of just 3 of 31 parents shed CMV, and none of the parents developed the infection.

"Our results indicate that children who acquire CMV in a day care center frequently transmit the virus to their mothers," report the researchers. The next step, they say, is to evaluate preventive measures.
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Title Annotation:day care center children transmit cytomegalovirus to parents
Publication:Science News
Date:Jun 14, 1986
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