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Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and Pregnancy

Person washing their handsCMV, or cytomegalovirus (sī-to-MEG-a-lo-vī-rus), is a common virus that infects people of all ages. Once CMV is in a person's body, it stays there for life. Most infections with CMV are "silent," meaning most people who are infected with CMV have no signs or symptoms. However, CMV can cause disease in unborn babies.

 

A Randomized Trial to Prevent Congenital Cytomegalovirus (CMV)

a pregnant womanWomen who are pregnant may be eligible for a study about how to prevent CMV infection in unborn babies. The trial is sponsored by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and is enrolling at many hospitals across the country. For more information, visit Contacts and Locations section of this Web site.

 

CDC Expert Commentary on MedscapeHelp Your Pregnant Patients Avoid CMV Infection
Michael Cannon, PhD, MS

 

CMV is spread through:

  • Person to person contact (such as, kissing, sexual contact, and getting saliva or urine on your hands and then touching your eyes, or the inside of your nose or mouth)
  • Breast milk of an infected woman who is breast feeding
  • Infected pregnant women can pass the virus to their unborn babies
  • Blood transfusions and organ transplantations

 


Contact with the saliva or urine of young children is a major cause of CMV infection among pregnant women.

Prevention

Pregnant women may want to take steps to reduce their risk of exposure to CMV and so reduce the risk of CMV infection of their fetus. Here are a few simple steps you can take to avoid exposure to saliva and urine that might contain CMV:

More information on hand washing is available on the CDC Ounce of Prevention site.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 15-20 seconds, especially after
    • changing diapers
    • feeding a young child
    • wiping a young child's nose or drool
    • handling children's toys

  • Do not share food, drinks, or eating utensils used by young children
  • Do not put a child's pacifier in your mouth
  • Do not share a toothbrush with a young child
  • Avoid contact with saliva when kissing a child
  • Clean toys, countertops, and other surfaces that come into contact with children's urine or saliva

People who work closely with children in settings, such as child care facilities, may be at greater risk of CMV infection than persons who do not work in such settings. If you are pregnant and work with children, follow standard handwashing procedures after contact with body fluids, such as urine and saliva, that could contain CMV. Learn more about CMV and people who care for infants and children.

Symptoms

Most healthy children and adults infected with CMV have no symptoms and may not even know that they have been infected. Others may develop a mild illness. Symptoms may include fever, sore throat, fatigue, and swollen glands. These symptoms are similar to those of other illnesses, so most people are not aware that they are infected with CMV.

Most babies born with CMV (in other words, "congenital" CMV) never develop symptoms or disabilities. When babies do have symptoms, some can go away but others can be permanent.

Examples of symptoms or disabilities caused by congenital (meaning present at birth) CMV:

 

Temporary Symptoms

Permanent Symptoms or Disabilities

Liver problems
Spleen problems
Jaundice (yellow skin and eyes)
Purple skin splotches
Lung problems
Small size at birth
Seizures

Hearing Loss
Vision loss
Mental disability
Small head
Lack of coordination
Seizures
Death



Treatment

Currently, no treatment is recommended for CMV infection in healthy pregnant women. Vaccines for preventing CMV infection are still in the research and development stage.

CMV in the News

Short videos about CMV

VideoVirus Strikes Pregnant Women
 

Raising Awareness - Cytomegalovirus (CMV)

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