The Prime Minister David Cameron announced Caroline Star, Chair of CMV Action, as one of his final Points of Light winners. Caroline Star is calling on health professionals and educators to follow his example and talk about the CMV virus that left her daughter profoundly deaf.
CMV, or cytomegalovirus, is a common virus that can infect people of all ages. Once CMV is in a person’s body, it stays there for life. Most healthy adults and children will have no signs or symptoms, and no long-term effects. However, it can be dangerous if it passes from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby.
Congenital CMV is one of the main causes of childhood disability in the UK. It is more common than Down’s Syndrom and damages 2 to 3 babies born every day.
The main reason pregnant women catch CMV is from the bodily fluids of small children. Making simple changes where possible, such as not sharing food, drink and cutlery with small children, and kissing them on the head instead of the lips, can make all the difference.
CMV Action campaigns for better education of health professionals and parents-to-be. Just 14% of British women aged 18-44 know about the CMV virus. Yet nine out of ten women (91%) think that pregnant women should be given advice about CMV infection during pregnancy. The charity is also calling for more research into treatment and a vaccine.
Prime Minister David Cameron said: “For the thousands of civil servants who generously give their time and share their skills with good causes, volunteering is a natural extension of their dedication to public service. Despite a busy career at the Department for Education, Caroline’s exceptional volunteering has seen her take over the Chair of CMV Action and significantly step up its influence and activities. I’m delighted to recognise her service with this Point of Light award.”
Caroline Star said “The CMV virus devastates lives. Yet women aren't given the facts they need to protect their baby. We want to see every pregnant woman equipped with knowledge of how CMV is spread and how to reduce these risks – following some simple hygiene precautions in pregnancy can make all the difference. As a mum of a child affected by CMV I’m delighted to have the Prime Minster join us in talking about CMV. We need to see more GPs and midwives following his example and updating their knowledge and discussing risk reduction with pregnant women.”
CMV Action supports hundreds of families and health professionals every year through its events, helpline, website and research. The charity is currently running a campaign to raise funds to educate early years practitioners who are at greater risk of catching the virus. You can donate at: https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/cmveducation
Caroline is the latest recipient of a Points of Light award, which recognises outstanding individual volunteers, people who are making a change in their community and inspiring others. Each day, someone, somewhere in the country is selected to receive the award to celebrate their remarkable achievements.
Caroline is the 579th winner of a Point of Light award. The award has been developed in partnership with the hugely successful Points of Light programme in the USA and was first established by President George H. W. Bush. Over 5,000 US Points of Light have been awarded and both President George H. W. Bush and President Barack Obama have publicly supported the partnership with Points of Light UK which honours shining examples of volunteering across the country.