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Experts address risk to newborns, transplant patients of common virus

The world’s leading experts on the virus which is the leading infectious cause of abnormalities including cerebral palsy and deafness in newborn babies will be meeting in Brisbane next week (19-24 April).

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute is hosting the 5th International Congenital Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Conference at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, which will include two public forums.

Professor Suresh Boppana from the University of Alabama will give the inaugural address on the global burden of congenital CMV infection on Monday morning and parents of children affected by the virus will talk about the devastating impact on their families.

Professor Rajiv Khanna from QIMR Berghofer, who is co-convener of the meeting, said about one third of women who are infected with CMV for the first time while pregnant will pass the infection on to their developing child.

“Many infants who are exposed to CMV during pregnancy develop a range of complications which may also include epilepsy, vision impairment and moderate to severe intellectual impairments,” Professor Khanna said.

“It is estimated 4 000 babies are infected during pregnancy in Australia each year, and about 400 of those will display symptoms at birth.

“In a smaller number the affects will be detected in early childhood.”

The first public forum of the conference – from 6.00 to 7.30pm on Tuesday 21 April will focus on CMV risks for pregnant women and information which might be useful for their doctors.

The session will include parents’ perspectives, the latest information on therapies, and a question and answer session led by Janelle Greenlee, the founder of the Stop CMV – The CMV Action Network.

Professor Khanna said the other group at increased risk from CMV infection includes those with a weakened immune system, such as transplant recipients.

“In healthy people, CMV infection may result in flu-like symptoms or no symptoms at all, but researchers around the globe are working to reduce the impact for those who face potentially serious consequences from infection.”

The second public forum will feature the world’s foremost expert in kidney transplantation Professor Jeremy Chapman, from 7.00 to 8.00pm on Wednesday 22 April.

Both forums are free and have been specifically organised for members of the public.

They will be held in the Boulevard Auditorium at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The conference program can be viewed online at:

More information about the public forums is available at: