Researchers at the University of Minnesota Medical School in the United States found that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of children born in Minnesota with cytomegalovirus (CMV) dropped significantly. The study found that in the five years leading up to the pandemic, about one child in every 200 was born with CMV. Between August 2020 and December 2021, that number dropped to one child per 1,000.
The results of the study were published in the journal JAMA.
Cytomegalovirus is the most common virus that causes birth defects and disabilities in newborns.
Researchers concluded that a combination of strict hygiene precautions, stay-at-home practices and, most importantly, the closure of child care facilities and group day care centers resulted in reduced transmission of the CMV virus to children and their mothers during the pandemic. Women with babies attending daycare are at risk of contracting the infection from their child. If such an infection occurs during a subsequent pregnancy, the next child may be born with the infection and be at risk of developing disabilities, especially hearing loss.
The research team recommends further outreach campaigns to increase knowledge and awareness of cytomegalovirus.