A carer is opening up about a "common cold" she contracted during her pregnancy.
Mum Courtney Farnell, 21, gave birth to her daughter after contracting cytomegalovirus, also known as CMV.
The virus causes cold-like symptoms in kids and adults which the mum caught from her caring duties with vulnerable people.
It is transferred through saliva, tears and urine, which is usually harmless but can be fatal to unborn babies, reports Leeds Live.
The illness damaged the foetus and Courtney claims she was told to abort baby Minnie-Mae who was likely to be stillborn.
But the mum kept the baby and now her daughter is 14 months old.
Minnie-Mae is unable to walk or talk after suffering from anaemia, stiffness, muscle weakness, epilepsy and severe brain damage.
The mum is now speaking out to warn others about the severity of the virus.
She said: "If you catch the CMV in the first stage of pregnancy it can have horrific outcomes.
"You can catch the virus through changing nappies and bottles, that I was doing regularly as a carer for both kids and adults.
"You don't even notice it if you're not pregnant, but nobody ever warned me about it.
"I was mortified when I found out I could have caught the virus through my caring work. I don't know how I caught it and I never will."
What is cytomegalovirus (CMV)?
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common virus that sometimes causes problems in babies if you contract it during a pregnancy.
It is related to the herpes virus which causes cold sores and chickenpox.
CMV could result in serious health problems in some babies who get the virus before birth.
Symptoms of cytomegalovirus include:
- Aching muscles
- Skin rash
- Feeling sick
- High temperature
- Sore throat
- Swollen glands
Cytomegalovirus is mainly spread through close contact with someone who already has the virus.
If feel like you've got symptoms of CMV, the NHS states they usually get better without treatment within three weeks.
However, if you're concerned about your symptoms, it is advised to speak to your GP about it.
Courtney fell pregnant in January 2019 and said she had some bleeding early on, but it was dismissed as normal.
Meanwhile, she continued to work caring for kids, adults and elderly people, putting her significantly at risk.
Then a 12-week scan revealed her unborn baby had fluid in the brain, a sign of CMV, but it quickly disappeared.
But her next scan at 20 weeks showed Minnie-Mae had severe brain damage, and liver and kidney problems.
It is a common infection in children which causes cold sores and chickenpox.
However, only 1 in 1,000 babies born in the UK every year will have permanent disabilities as a result.
One way to prevent CMV is by taking simple hygiene precautions while pregnant, like washing your hands and not sharing cups.
Courtney added: "They told me she would never breathe on her own. It was like, bang, something just hit me in the heart.
"They told me to terminate the pregnancy, that I would be her carer for life – but I was a carer so I didn't want to give up.
"I was in a horrendous way then – I didn't get out of bed for four months and had to shave all my hair off because it got so matted."
She continued: "Everybody was supportive of my decisions to continue. I needed to be positive.
"Something was always telling me that she wasn't going to be as she said. She had the strongest heartbeat and was kicking a lot.
"I wasn't going to give up, if I couldn't give her a chance then nobody would, so I started to be more positive and get out of bed."
At 29 weeks, unborn Millie's condition started to improve and scans showed she was growing again.
Courtney was induced at 34 weeks due to reduced movement and Minnie-Mae was born September 3, 2019, weighing 2lbs 4oz.
After four days she was taken off life support in St James's University Hospital, in Leeds, and defied odds to breathe on her own.
Doctors predicted she'd be in hospital for three months but she came home after just three-and-a-half weeks.
The mum added: "Although she has all this she's a very happy baby and learning new things every day."
Courtney created the Facebook group CMV awareness where more than 1,000 parents share their experiences.
She admitted: "I feel lucky as Minnie is a lot more well-off than most CMV babies, she can sit up even with her severe brain damage."