A study conducted out of the University of Sydney suggests that cytomegalovirus (or CMV), a type of infection that can affect a fetus’ developing brain if it crosses the placenta, is highly common among children with cerebral palsy (“CP”). CMV is a member of the herpesvirus family, and is contracted by direct contact of bodily fluids. While usually harmless, the risk is higher among babies in utero if the mother is diagnosed with CMV, as the infection can pass to the fetus and potentially cause long-term neurological conditions.
In the Sydney study, researchers analyzed 323 children with CP and found that 9.6% had the infection—a proportion much higher than the less than 1% of children with CMV that was detected in the newborn period in the general community. While study leader Dr. Hayley Smithers-Sheedy notes that more research is needed to investigate this link, the study serves as a timely reminder of the potential long-term consequences of the dangerous intrauterine infection.
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