Vaccine could protect against virus that causes birth defects | Science News

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Vaccine could protect against virus that causes birth defects

Shots might prevent some birth defects caused by cytomegalovirus infections in moms-to-be

By
4:40pm, March 18, 2009

An experimental vaccine is effective half the time in stopping cytomegalovirus infection in women in their child-bearing years, researchers report in the March 19 New England Journal of Medicine.

No vaccine currently exists for cytomegalovirus, which can cause birth defects when it infects a pregnant woman. Because of this risk, vaccine researchers have targeted the virus for decades — without any clear benefit until now.

“This is the first vaccine that really shows prevention from infection with cytomegalovirus,” says Walla Dempsey, a microbiologist and immunologist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Md., who wasn’t a researcher on this study.

Most people get infected by cytomegalovirus as children and have few complications or even symptoms. Nearly two-thirds of women in child-bearing years have already been infected with cytomegalovirus.

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