Two items in recent issues of the CDC’s freely available Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report are particularly relevant to women’s health.
The first addresses OB/GYNs’ knowledge of cytomegalovirus risks during pregnancy. According to the agency, cytomegalovirus (CMV) is the most common congenital infection in the United States – they estimate that 8,000 children each year suffer permanent disabilities (such as hearing and vision loss and cognitive impairment) caused by CMV.
In March of 2007, the CDC surveyed 305 selected ACOG members about their knowledge of CMV infection prevention techniques and their related practices with obstetric patients. Ninety percent of the physicians reported knowing that hand-washing reduced infection risk, and 60 percent routinely recommended handwashing to their pregnant patients, but fewer knew that avoiding sharing utensils and avoiding children’s saliva could also reduce risk. Only 44 percent of the respondents had counseled pregnant patients about avoiding CMV infection, although more than 25 percent had diagnosed a case in the past five years.
The MMWR piece also refers to a 2006 study which found only about 22 percent of women surveyed had ever heard of CMV. For more information on the infection, see the CDC’s website, American Pregnancy Association*, and the March of Dimes.
Another recent MMWR piece looks at associations between intimate partner violence, poor health, and risky behaviors. Questions on these topics were asked as part of the 2005 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey. The researchers found that those reporting any lifetime history of intimate partner violence reported significantly higher rates of activity limitations, use of “disability equipment,” arthritis, asthma, stroke, and other conditions, and were more likely to have health risk factors such as risky sexual behavior, smoking, and heavy drinking.
The editors note that the survey has limitations and cannot explain the cause of these associations, but suggest that “clinicians should consider assessing exposure to IPV (intimate partner violence) when patients have signs or symptoms of stress or other conditions that are consistent with IPV.”
*8/8/08 update: We just discovered that the American Pregnancy Association is funded by anti-choice activists, and the information on its website is biased in places by their perspective. For more information, see Exposed: American Pregnancy Association Hides Links to CPCs.