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Common Viral Infection Causes Birth Defects To Babies Like Gideon, Very Few Mothers Are Aware [VIDEO]

Update Date: Mar 29, 2017 07:28 AM EDT

A common viral infection causes birth defects in one of five babies born with Cytomegalovirus (CMV). A child named Gideon was born with symptoms of CMV infection so severe he is completely dependent on his caregivers.

Every year, 40,000 babies are born infected and show no symptoms but Gideon's was among the rare cases. Kathleen Muldoon, an associate professor who teaches anatomy at Midwestern University, gave birth to her baby boy Gideon three years ago. He had microcephaly, a condition in which the head is smaller than its normal size. Zika virus is also said to cause microcephaly. The diagnosis included brain damage, visual impairment and quadriplegic cerebral palsy, which affects all four limbs.

The survey showed only as many as nine percent of women had information about CMV. As someone who teaches anatomy, Muldoon had not heard about it either. Many pregnant women do not know that this common viral infection causes birth defects. CMV infection does not usually cause severe symptoms except for vulnerable people such as pregnant women, people infected with HIV and those who underwent organ transplantation.

In rare cases, an infected pregnant woman could pass on CMV to the fetus through the placenta. Experts believe that about 10 percent of babies born by women infected for the first time during pregnancy are likely to have health problems associated with the virus. Three percent might have conditions that Gideon has.

Children can get the virus from kissing or touching infected people and contaminated objects and surfaces. It lives on objects and surfaces for hours, and can be transmitted through bodily fluids. One in five children is infected by the time they reach age 5, the NPR reported.

Several conditions appear at birth or later during childhood such as premature birth, problems with the lungs, liver and spleen, size and head smaller than normal and seizures.

Some babies may suffer from long-term health issues like loss of some intellectual, hearing or visual abilities, microcephaly, lack of coordination, seizures and muscle weakness, according to the CDC.

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