Cytomegalovirus: An Information Issue

There is a virus pregnant women can contract, that permanently disables unborn foetuses. Cytomegalovirus affects 2000 babies every year in Australia, and 380 of these babies will be forced to grapple with things like hearing and vision loss, cerebral palsy and epilepsy. Occasionally, it facilitates death. If you haven’t heard of this virus, there is a pretty despicable reason why. International guidelines do not recommend warning pregnant women about CMV, justifying this complete lack of disclosure on the grounds that they ”don’t want to worry patients, given there is no preventative vaccine.” However, Dr William Rawlinson, A Senior Medical virologist at UNSW is pursuing change. He has recommended that healthcare professionals should be informing women about CMV, rightly construing the current omitting of CMV from healthcare conversation as patronising and unethical. Considering simple hygiene precautions minimise the risk of contracting the infection, it seems nonsensical that doctors are told to intentionally, not inform women of the disease.

The Daily discussed this with Dr William Rawlinson, the Senior Medical Virologist at UNSW, who was a lead author in a new recommendation for CMV prevention, diagnosis and treatment compiled earlier this month.

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