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  1. ITV Report

Hampshire mother calls for greater awareness of Congenital CMV after daughter left deaf

  • Watch Mel Bloor's report below

A mother from Hampshire is calling for greater awareness about the dangers of the virus CMV, after she contracted the infection while pregnant and her daughter was born profoundly deaf and autistic.

Credit: ITV Meridian

Christine Wheatley, who is also a GP, is calling for better preventative advice of congenital CMV following her daughter's infection.

Christine's 11-year-old daughter, Ellie, is deaf as a result of congenital CMV and has cochlear implants.

  • What is CMV?

CMV, also known as Cytomegalovirus, is a common virus that can infect people of all ages. CMV can pose a serious risk to unborn babies when a pregnant women catches it for the first time. It is spread through bodily fluids, so the chance of catching it through casual contact is very low.

Congenital CMV is when a baby has been infected before birth. It is one of the leading causes of hearing loss in children and one of the main causes of childhood disability. It can cause stillbirth, miscarriage and serious lifelong health issues in babies.

(cmvaction.org.uk)

1,000
babies are currently born with congenital CMV (CMV Action)

There were some very dark days. The uncertainty I think is probably the hardest thing to live with. For me, obviously there was some guilt around the fact that I had given her the infection and possibly it could have been prevented. I think for me, I just had to teach myself to live day-by-day and look for the positives. Often with CMV children, they develop later but we had to look for the positives when she did develop and reach milestones, as opposed to looking and comparing her with other children."

– Christine Wheatley, Mother

In a report released this week by the charity CMV Action, CMV is said to cost the UK £750 million a year.

It claims the UK is 'lagging behind' other countries where preventative advice is routinely given to pregnant women.

Congenital CMV affects more babies every year than Down's syndrome, toxoplasmosis and listeriosis, according to the charity.

Ellie, who is deaf and autistic, has full-time support at school from a teaching assistant that she says "makes a lot of difference".

Making friends is a bit more difficult at school, like, I take up my time to go to appointments. So yeah, just generally it makes life a bit harder."

– Ellie Wheatley