A bill seeking to educate young mothers about a common yet potentially dangerous virus received the Legislature’s final stamp of approval Thursday.
The House voted, 59-10, to allocate $15,000 for educational materials about cytomegalovirus that would be placed in doctors’ offices, schools, daycare programs and other locations frequented by young mothers. It is headed to Gov. Butch Otter’s desk for his signature.
In a statement to the Idaho Press-Tribune, Rebekah Hall with the Idaho CMV Advocacy Project said the group is “extremely thankful and relieved” it achieved its goal in such a short amount of time. The Nampa woman helped form the group a few months ago.
“We have spoken to many people, including legislators, physicians and general citizens alike in the last month and have been very encouraged by how receptive they seem to be to receive our information about CMV and want to know more about prevention,” Hall wrote. “This is both healing and gratifying to us as parents of children affected by CMV and empowering to us as advocates.”
CMV is a common ailment that, once in a person’s system, is there for life. Most people never notice symptoms, and it is usually not harmful. It can cause problems for those with weakened immune systems, such as fetuses.
One in 150 babies are born with CMV. Of that number, 20 percent experience long-term developmental issues, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Common permanent problems include hearing and vision loss, intellectual and physical disabilities and seizures.
Hall’s 4-year-old daughter has disabilities caused by having contracted CMV while in the womb. CMV is passed through bodily fluids like blood, saliva, tears and urine. Hall thinks she probably got it from one of her young sons and passed it to her unborn daughter.
Avoiding contracting CMV while pregnant is important and involves simple things such as washing your hands and not sharing drinks.
This is only the beginning for the Idaho CMV Advocacy Project, Hall wrote. The parents who formed the group will work with the Department of Health and Welfare to disseminate the informative materials, and they intend to continue spreading awareness.
“And you will see us back at the statehouse next session, looking to expand the bill to include targeted CMV testing for infants who fail their newborn hearing screens,” Hall wrote.