Health workers join Doncaster mum to spread word about how to avoid deadly virus

A Doncaster mum-of-three is working with the district’s health workers to raise awarenes of a devastating virus that seriously affected her baby daughter.

By Nigel Booth
Tuesday, 25 June, 2019, 16:58

Kayleigh Menzies, 30, of New Edlington, gave birth to daughter Justice seven months ago, but just weeks before discovered her baby had health complications due to Cytomegalovirus (CMV).

Justice was born with visual impairment, cerebral palsy, deafness, seizures and a range of other conditions due to Kayleigh contracting the virus during her pregnancy. The family is now supported by a range of health workers, including Health Visitors from Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH), staff from Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and Portage staff from Doncaster Council.

Kayleigh and partner Luke, 31, want to raise the profile of the virus during CMV awareness month as simple hygiene measures can reduce the risk of catching it.

“I fell ill while I was pregnant,” said Kayleigh. “When I was 29 weeks pregnant I went to hospital and I was told my baby was small. Two weeks later I had a scan to be told there was fluid on my baby’s brain.

“I was sent to see a consultant in Sheffield who specialises in birth defects and was scanned again. It went quiet in the room, my baby had haemorrhaged in her head and I was told that it was due to an infection. I was 33 weeks pregnant. I agreed to an amniocenteses test and that confirmed the CMV virus to which I’d previously tested negative twice for.

“I was told our baby would have health problems and she has,” added Kayleigh. “My baby’s life is now limited because of the virus. I don’t want other people to go through this and want to make other women aware of CMV, the risks and complications.” Health workers say the best way to reduce the risk of catching CMV during pregnancy is with simple hygiene measures including washing hands using soap and hot water, especially after changing nappies, feeding young children or wiping their nose; by regularly washing toys or other items that get young children's saliva or urine on them and by avoiding sharing food, cutlery, drinking glasses or dummies with young children.

The first time someone gets CMV, the symptoms are flu-like including a high temperature of 38C or more, aching muscles, tiredness, feeling sick, sore throat or swollen glands. Other people don’t have any symptoms.

“I may have simply drunk from a cup that another child has used,” said Kayleigh, and now all the family has to adapt to cater for Justice’s needs.

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“We are always at hospital for visits, she will never go to a mainstream school and the virus is so preventable.  I’m so grateful for the support we receive from health visitors, teachers, occupational therapists and all of the other health staff involved in Justice’s care.”