If nothing else, 2020 taught us a thing or two about preventing the spread of germs. As we begin to navigate normal life, there's another strong case to remain steadfast in the practice of handwashing — even more so if you're an expectant mom. Congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a virus that impacts approximately one in every 200 babies born in the United States, and is the leading viral cause of birth defects — it's passed through bodily fluids (like saliva), making handwashing oh so important, especially if you're a pregnant woman with another toddler in the home.
CMV often doesn't show symptoms in young children (and is usually asymptomatic in adults), or will present as a common cold or flu, and is generally harmless in healthy children and adults. In fact, according to the National CMV Foundation, one in three 5-year-olds is already infected. But babies in utero are most vulnerable, as viral transmission can lead to birth defects like hearing loss, developmental disabilities, or microcephaly.
CMV is most commonly transferred through saliva. So, if you're a pregnant mom with a germ-prone tot in tow, reduce your risk by avoiding contact with their saliva and taking basic hygiene very seriously. This includes fastidious handwashing, particularly after wiping your child's nose or face, changing their diapers, feeding them, or handling their toys. Other considerations? Don't share your toothbrush, put your child's pacifier in your own mouth, or share food, drinks, or utensils.
Learn more about CMV here.