Cytomegalovirus (CMV)

What Women Need to Know

About CMV

CMV is most commonly transmitted by young children at home or work. Those infected with CMV often show no signs or symptoms, others may have mild flu-like symptoms such as fever, sore throat or fatigue. When CMV occurs during pregnancy the baby can become infected before birth (congenital CMV) and this may cause damage to the brain, eyes and or inner ears. Children born with congenital CMV may develop permanent medical conditions and disabilities such as deafness, blindness, cerebral palsy, other mental and physical disabilities, seizures and in some cases it may result in death.

Incidence

According to the National CMV Foundation 1 in 150 children in the United States are born with congenital CMV and 1 in 5 of those children will develop permanent problems such as hearing loss or developmental disabilities. Congenital CMV is the most common cause of non-hereditary hearing loss in children.

Transmission

The virus is generally passed from infected people to others through direct contact with bodily fluids such as urine, saliva, blood, tears, mucus, and other bodily fluids.

Prevention

Always wash your hands with soap and water after changing diapers, feeding a young child, wiping a young child’s nose/mouth, and handling toys. Don’t share food, drinks, eating utensils, and toothbrushes. Try to avoid contact with saliva when kissing or snuggling. Make sure to clean toys, countertops and other surfaces that may have come in contact with children’s saliva or urine.

Diagnosis

If the baby doesn’t pass the newborn hearing screening in the hospital, it is important to have an outpatient hearing screening before 10 days of age. If the baby doesn’t pass the outpatient screening, your provider should talk with you about the need for congenital CMV testing and schedule a diagnostic hearing evaluation immediately.  CMV testing is a simple and painless process using a urine or saliva sample from the baby. In order to detect congenital CMV, testing must be done immediately or before the child is 21 days old.