Mum Amy Davies is calling for greater awareness about the dangers of a virus which she picked up during pregnancy and left her daughter deaf in one ear.
CMV is often contracted by young children at nursery who generally soon recover from the flu-like symptoms.
But in cases where it’s passed from mother to baby in the womb, it can cause serious complications – and even death for a newborn.
Amy was employed as a play worker at a before and after school club during her pregnancy and believes she may have caught the infection there.
Little Penelope Lees was born three weeks early, weighing just 5lb 12oz, after mum was induced. She was found to be deaf in her right ear and lacking in progress.
But she was not tested for CMV until she turned six months old and is now too old to receive treatment.
Amy, aged 23, from Trent Vale, said: “I was about 25 weeks pregnant when I started to going to the maternity assessment unit at the Royal Stoke because I couldn’t feel her moving.
“I was told at 35 weeks that I was going to be induced. She was born on August 21 last year and she was so small. She wasn’t responsive for the first few minutes and it was very scary.
“She had some oxygen and after a few long minutes she was in my arms. The first test when we noticed something wasn’t quite right was the new-born hearing screening – nothing was detected in either ear.
“We had an appointment with an audiologist and discovered she was profoundly deaf in her right ear. My heart sunk.
“After eight weeks she still wasn’t smiling. She was content and happy, but she was just lying there. She wasn’t doing much compared to her two-year-old brother Wilfy at that age.
“At about nine weeks she smiled and I broke down as I thought we were getting somewhere, but she still wasn’t doing much at all.”
Royal Stoke University Hospital doctors started investigating why Penelope’s development was lacking in January. In February, Penelope’s parents were told CMV had been detected in her urine.
Penelope was then admitted to hospital for a non-blanching rash which, at first, was not linked to CMV. But when she went back to hospital with the same rash two weeks later a different doctor linked the rash to the virus.
It was now too late for her to have treatment to limit its effects.
Amy said: “An ultrasound scan of her head in hospital showed Penelope’s soft spot was still slightly open and they detected an infection from CMV.
“If she had received treatment before turning six months it could have stopped the effects of the virus from worsening. She will have the virus for the rest of her life.
“Some babies with CMV do sometimes die before they’re born so we are really lucky that she’s here and she’s happy and loved.”
Despite her health problems, Amy says Penelope is ‘always laughing’.
She said: “She’s the happiest little girl, she’s so content and loves everybody. She’s full of smiles and always laughing, she’s lovely.”
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Now the mum-of-two is calling for more preventative advice to be given to pregnant women and that all newborn babies are tested for the condition.
Amy added: “It’s the most common cause of hearing loss in children and I’d never heard of it. If I had I would have put more in place to protect myself and Penelope.
“I want to make it mandatory that CMV is tested at birth so that treatment can start. Unfortunately for Penelope it was too late and we are unsure how her hearing and sight will be for the next few years.”