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Some child hearing loss tied to virus in pregnancy

New study highlights connection to cytomegalovirus

Reuters, Monday 24 Jan 2011
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Hearing loss in a child may have links to a virus contracted by the mother while pregnant, according to a new study.

In kids that had some degree of hearing loss, about 9 per cent also had cytomegalovirus (CMV) at birth, says a new study in the Archives of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.

"(CMV) needs to be on the list of things we think about when we see a child with hearing loss," said Dr. Stephanie Misono, an ear, nose and throat fellow at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, and lead author on the study.

CMV is a common virus that normally causes a harmless infection, although people with weakened immune systems can get sick from it. Infections can be avoided by washing your hands regularly especially after dealing with sick people and toddlers, who sometimes carry it, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

For women who are already infected when they become pregnant, the chances of passing it along to their children are quite small. It's women who pick it up while pregnant who have a higher chance, according to the study, but it's still quite unlikely that their babies will develop CMV-related hearing loss.

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