Researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health have developed an experimental vaccine that reduces stillbirths among rodents born to mothers infected with cytomegalovirus (CMV) — a common virus that can also cause mental retardation and hearing loss in newborn children who were infected in early fetal life.
Estimates place the number of U.S. children born with CMV each year at about 40,000, and there is no vaccine or treatment for pregnant women who have the infection. In a 2000 report, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences listed as a top priority the development of a vaccine to prevent cytomegalovirus during pregnancy.
“An effective CMV vaccine for women of childbearing age could greatly reduce the disability caused by the virus,” said Duane Alexander, M.D., Director of the NICHD, the NIH institute that funded the study. “A prototype vaccine is the first step in protecting newborns against the most common viral disease of newborns in the developed world.”
The study appears in the March 15, 2007, issue of the Journal of Infectious Diseases .
or Marianne Glass Miller
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