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Mum urges families to be aware of common virus with devastating effects
A MUM is calling for awareness of a common virus she contracted during pregnancy which has caused her little girl to battle severe deafness.
Radcliffe hairdresser Lindsey Cooper is urging families to understand the dangers posed by Cytomegalovirus (CMV), which left four-year-old daughter Charlie facing a future without her hearing.
The virus, which lies dormant in half of the population but is a risk to anyone with a weakened immune system, is transferred by bodily fluids and can be passed on from a mother to her unborn child during pregnancy.
This is known as congenital CMV and 31-year-old Lindsey wants expectant mums to know how to protect themselves and to be aware of the symptoms.
Charlie, who attends Ribble Drive Primary School in Whitefield, was born with unilateral deafness in one ear and since the age of three has been steadily losing the hearing in her other ear.
Lindsey, who works at Studio 82 hair salon in Church Street West, also has an eight-year-old son Bobby, and says she was given no information about the threat CMV posed during either of her pregnancies.
Congenital CMV affects one in 150 children and most commonly causes hearing loss but has also been linked to autism, learning difficulties, visual impairments, physical disabilities and cerebral palsy.
Heath experts say the virus is passed on through saliva and can be spread by kissing or sharing dummies and cups, but can be easily prevented by basic hygiene such as washing hands regularly.
Doctors do not routinely scan for CMV in pregnancy and there is no official vaccine.
Lindsey and partner Neil Walker, aged 30, have found solace in charity CMV Action which offers support to people affected.
Lindsey, of Westminster Avenue, Whitefield, said: “There desperately needs to be more awareness. It is all about educating people.
“The only information I have is from research I have done myself or through the charity.
“It was just never flagged up as something I needed to be worried about.”
Lindsey still has no idea how she contracted the virus and at what point in her pregnancy it was passed on to Charlie.
A small birth weight and being born with purple spots on their body known as petechiae can be obvious signs of CMV – both of which Charlie had as a newborn.
It was when she was hospitalised with pneumonia for the second time, at the age of one, that congenital CMV was confirmed.
Lindsay has learned that, in some countries, treatment is offered during pregnancy and in the UK newborns diagnosed straight away can be given antiviral medication intravenously.
Lindsey said: “While we knew Charlie had one-sided deafness from birth, we had no idea it would get worse and worse.
“She manages very well, proudly wearing a glittery pink hearing aid she picked herself with a Peppa Pig attachment.
Despite the challenges she tackles, she remains very determined and although CMV has had a devastating longterm impact I wouldn’t change her for the world.
“Every day she amazes me so much.”
Charlie will eventually lose her hearing completely but can be fitted with a cochlear implant — a small electronic device — before she is eight.
Lindsey is holding a family fun day in aid of CMV Action on Easter Monday April 21 between 11am and 4pm at Victoria Community Centre in Whitefield and a charity ball will be held on September 13 at Radcliffe Civic Suite at 7.30pm.
To contact Lindsey about fundraising: call 07515711260 or search CMV Manchester on Facebook .
For more information about CMV Action: call 0845 4679590 or visit cmvaction.org.uk.
To make a donation: go to http://uk.virginmoneygiving.c om/team/charliewalker
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