Cytomegalovirus (CMV)

Q: I have heard that CMV can be a serious problem when contracted by a pregnant woman. What is it and how can it be prevented?

A: Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a virus contracted by contact with infected body fluids like saliva, urine and blood. Most adults and children who get CMV may not even know they have been infected because the symptoms are often mild or vague, like fever, fatigue, sore throat or a mononucleosis-type illness. However, babies born with CMV (about 1 in 150 live births) may have a more serious illness.

Health problems occur most often in babies born to women who get their first CMV infection during pregnancy. In the United States, about half of expectant mothers have never been infected with CMV. Fewer than 4 percent of uninfected pregnant women will get a first CMV infection during their pregnancy. Only about 30 percent of those pregnant women will pass the virus to their unborn baby. Although most babies born with CMV never develop problems, the infection may cause hearing loss, vision loss and developmental disabilities in affected newborns.

CMV is most frequently found in day care and pre-school age children. Most infections among pregnant women are caused by contact with infected saliva or urine; therefore, mothers and child care workers are at high risk for contracting the infection.

Recommendations for pregnant women to help prevent contracting CMV:

• Wash hands often with soap and water, especially after contact with saliva or with diapers of young children.

• Do not kiss children under 6 years on the mouth or cheek.

• Do not share food, drinks or silverware with young children.

If you are pregnant and think you may have contracted CMV, talk to your doctor.

Daniel R. Lattanzi, M.D.
Obstetrics and Gynecology




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