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UMass Chan Seeks Help in Study of Birth Defect Causing Virus

By Tom Marino | April 9, 2024
Last Updated: April 9, 2024

WORCESTER – UMass Chan Medical School, in a research collaboration with Moderna, has launched a Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Transmission and Immune tracking (TransmIT) Study. CMV is the most common prenatal infection and the leading cause of birth defects worldwide.

The study seeks parents with a child up to and including 36 months of age in an early education and care center in the Worcester or Cambridge areas.

CMV can cause a range of major health problems in newborns. Pregnant people exposed to large groups of young children, like childcare or preschools, are at high risk for CMV infection and need to take precautions.

CMV is a common virus in the same virus family as chicken pox and cold sores. Infection can occur at any age, but often in young children, usually causes mild or no symptoms, and has minimal health effects. Viruses in this family stay with those infected for life.

Many common infections, including CMV, spread between young children in large group education and care centers. Infections spread by activities such as sharing toys, touching, or eating together. Children who get CMV – even if they do not appear sick – usually have large amounts of virus in their saliva or urine for months or even years.

CMV can spread from pregnant individuals to their developing baby before birth, which causes congenital CMV infection. A major risk factor for having a baby with CMV is contact with the saliva or urine of young children who attend large education and care centers.

Symptoms of CMV can be found at birth, such as small head size, liver disease, or hearing loss. Symptoms can also develop or worsen later in childhood, such as cerebral palsy, seizures, or developmental delays. Hearing loss is the most common long-term health effect of CMV.

Learn more about the study and determine eligibility to participate at the study website.


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