Mother warns pregnant mums-to-be about disease that left two-year-old unable to walk

Sheena Charrett, with her daughter Scarlett, who was born in 2012 NNL-140107-171249001
Sheena Charrett, with her daughter Scarlett, who was born in 2012 NNL-140107-171249001

A mother who contracted a rare disease while pregnant that has left her two-year-old daughter unable to walk has warned others to be aware.

Sheena Charrett, 32, unknowingly contracted cytomegalovirus (CMV) during pregnancy and had never heard of the disease before her daughter, Scarlett, was born in 2012.

“It’s not on any sort of maternity literature,” said the mother-of-two from St James.

Alarm bells rang when Mrs Charrett’s daughter was born with a petechial rash. Urine and blood samples taken six days later confirmed that Scarlett was born with the virus, which continues to restrict her development today.

Mrs Charrett believes healthcare professionals need better training to spot the symptoms earlier.

The virus can cause permanent birth defects to unborn babies including hearing loss, visual impairment and loss of physical and motor skills. Carried by 80 percent of people, it usually poses no threat, but can be serious if contracted by pregnant women.

“I really want to bring awareness to the disease, because not many people know about it.”

A month away from her second birthday, Scarlett cannot yet walk unaided due to inner ear balance issues brought on by hearing loss. Mrs Charrett has every confidence that Scarlett will be walking in the near future.

“It’s just a wait and see game,” she said.

A new campaign to raise awarness of the killer virus has been launched to combat CMV by national charity, CMV Action.

Patron for the charity, Kimberly Walsh, is asking people to post pictures of their hands with the words “Wash Away CMV”, which is spread through bodily fluids. The campaign urges people to wash their hands and steer clear of sharing cutlery or drinks, especially with children under the age of six.