Cytomegalovirus infection during Pregnancy
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common virus that affects people of all ages. Being infected with CMV causes few problems or no problems in people who have a healthy immune system.
However, if you are pregnant, CMV infection is a concern because you can pass the virus to your baby before, during, or after birth.
If you become infected with CMV for the first time while you are pregnant, the virus can cause serious problems for your baby. If you had CMV before your pregnancy, the virus does not affect the infant as seriously. Infants are at risk for developing hearing, vision, neurological, and developmental problems over time. When a person is infected with CMV, he or she remains infected forever.
What are the causes?
This condition is caused by coming in contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, such as:
- Vaginal fluids.
- Blood transfusions.
- Organ transplants.
In pregnant women, CMV may be passed to the fetus:
- Through the placenta.
- During birth.
- Through infected breast milk.
What are the signs or symptoms?
Usually, there are no symptoms for this condition. When symptoms develop, they may include:
- Tiredness and weakness.
- Fever and chills.
- Sore throat and swollen lymph glands.
- Night sweats.
- Muscle aches and pain.
Most infants who were infected before birth usually show no symptoms and do not have long-term health problems. However, for some babies, CMV infection can cause birth defects or other health problems that may include:
- Yellowing of the skin and the white parts of the eyes (jaundice).
- Small purple-colored spots on the skin.
- Small size at birth.
- An enlarged liver or spleen.
- A small head.
- Feeding difficulties.
- Brain calcifications.
- Growth delay.
How is this diagnosed?
This condition may be diagnosed based on the test results of:
- A blood sample.
- A culture of body fluids.
- A sample of body tissue (biopsy).
- Fluid from the pregnancy sac (amniotic fluid or “bag of water”).
- CMV test on the infant after birth.
How is this treated?
There is no cure for this condition. However:
- Treatment may not be needed for healthy children and adults.
- Antiviral medicines may be given slow down the progress of the infection.
- Treatment can be focused on relieving the symptoms, such as fever, muscle pain, tiredness, and weakness.
Follow these instructions at home:
- Follow instructions and advice from your health care provider about how to reduce risks.
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water, especially if you have contact with children or diapers. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer.
- Avoid kissing on the mouth, especially children.
- Do not let your tears touch another person.
- Do not breastfeed if you have CMV infection.
- Do not share drinks or eating utensils with others.
- Practice safe sex and use condoms during sexual intercourse.
- Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your health care provider.
- Keep all follow-up visits as told by your health care provider. This is important.
Contact a health care provider if:
- You develop any of the symptoms of CMV infection.
- You think your infant has CMV infection.