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Norwalk Mom Fights Congenital Defects

Logan Tucciarone will never hear the piercing wail of a fire truck siren, but he'll be able to climb on one Saturday. The Norwalk Fire Department is bringing one to Calf Pasture Beach to help the toddler's mom prevent other children from suffering Logan's fate, birth defects that didn't have to happen.

Logan, 19 months, has congenital cytomegalovirus. It can cause more disabilities in newborns and young children than Down syndrome, spina bifida, fetal alcohol syndrome and pediatric HIV/AIDS, according to Stop CMV , and it's largely preventable.

"It's actually a very common virus," said Leah Tucciarone, Logan's mom. "Most adults actually have it. It's kind of like a cold -- it has flu-like symptoms when you get it, so most people fight it off, they don't know they have it. It's really only dangerous if you catch it during pregnancy or if you have immune deficiencies."

Logan has profound hearing loss in one ear and significant hearing loss in the other. He's almost 20 months old and can't quite walk yet. But he's better off than most children affected by the virus. "Logan is a very healthy case of CMV," Tucciarone said.

The Norwalk mom is raising awareness about CMV by organizing a photo stunt. She's looking for 200 volunteers to stand together to form the words "Stop CMV," and the fire department's ladder truck will provide a high vantage point for a photographer to capture the moment. Tucciarone then hopes to distribute photos to doctors' offices, clinics and via the Internet.

It's the second year Tucciarone has worked to spread the word. Last year she got a photo of Martha Stewart with "Stop CMV" written on her hand.

What does Tucciarone want pregnant women to know? Pregnant women should wash their hands often, especially after picking up toys and changing diapers, they should carefully throw away diapers and tissues and they should not share drinking glasses and eating utensils with young children – all March of Dimes recommendations for preventing the spread of CMV, which it says is the most common congenital infection in the U.S.

"We can't change what happened to Logan," said Tucciarone, "but we can try to prevent this from happening to someone else."

Families are welcome to the noon event Saturday at Calf Pasture Beach, as children will be allowed to climb on the truck. Volunteers are asked to wear a black T-shirt and jeans.

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