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Wednesday, July 10 2024

Canadian Researchers Launch Groundbreaking Study on CMV Infection Risks Among Early Childhood Educators in Québec

A groundbreaking project led by Dr. Isabelle Boucoiran, OB/GYN and researchers at CHU Sainte-Justine, is collaborating with Moderna to study the risk of cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection among early childhood educators in Québec.

CMV is a common virus that most people will contract in their lifetime. Notably, CMV is the leading infectious cause of congenital infection (cCMV), significantly contributing to hearing loss and intellectual disabilities in children. This study aims to deepen the scientific understanding of CMV transmission dynamics in early childhood education settings and to inform future prevention strategies.

Risks for fetuses and pregnant women

While CMV infection in adults is generally benign, the virus can cause serious complications in fetuses infected before birth, highlighting the critical need to prevent infection in pregnant women. Early childhood educators who are in frequent, close contact with young children are at increased risk of contracting CMV, as young children are often carriers of the virus.

“Children with CMV often exhibit trivial symptoms such as fever and may even be asymptomatic,” explained Dr. Boucoiran, who is also a professor at Université de Montréal’s School of Public Health. “As a result, they’re not necessarily removed from the childcare environment due to illness, which poses a risk for educators who are pregnant or wish to become pregnant.” Around two thirds (64%) of early childhood educators are women of childbearing age.

To prevent congenital transmission, the research team at the Mother and Child Infectious Diseases Centre, including Dr. Soren Gantt from CHU Sainte-Justine, will conduct a study to compare CMV infection and reinfection rates among daycare and childcare centre educators. This study will assess the risk of transmission between staff members and determine how long infected people remain contagious.

Participant recruitment and monitoring

The study will be conducted at three centres: CHU Sainte-Justine (CHUSJ), CHU de Québec-Université Laval (CHUQL), and Centre hospitalier Universitaire de Sherbrooke (CHUS). Researchers will recruit 533 early childhood educators in Québec aged 18 to 45 and a control group of 1,659 women who are not occupationally exposed to young children. Both groups will be monitored for 12 months.

The control group will be recruited from the staff of the three centres, in collaboration with Héma-Québec. Additionally, a qualitative component of the project will assess educators’ knowledge, opinions and acceptability of CMV infection prevention measures.

Working with the community

This project is being developed in collaboration with a community advisory committee made up of representatives from the Association québécoise des CPE, the Association paritaire pour la santé et la sécurité du travail du secteur affaires sociales, a daycare educator and a CHU Sainte-Justine patient partner.

To learn more about the study, go to https://www.eduqcmv.ca/


Dre Isabelle Boucoiran et Dr Soren Gantt

Photos © CHU Sainte-Justine (Stéphane Dedelis)

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Updated on 7/10/2024
Created on 7/3/2024
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