Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common disease, but most women have never heard of it. Yet over half of all adults have been exposed to CMV by age 40, but don't know it because the virus causes mild or no symptoms. However, if you develop CMV in pregnancy you can pass the virus on to your baby.
It is important for women to that are pregnant to ask their obstetrician if they have any questions.
Below are some commonly asked questions about CMV. Additional information can be found on the CDC website.
What is CMV?
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a virus that can infect people. Most of the time there are no symptoms so you may not know that you are infected. Once you have been infected it stays in your body for life. CMV can be passed to your unborn child and cause severe symptoms.
What are the risks of CMV to your pregnancy?
CMV infection in a newborn can be associated with severe symptoms including intellectual disability, hearing loss, vision loss and growth problems. The risk of passing CMV to your newborn is particularly high if you get the infection for the first-time during pregnancy. Of the 1% of pregnant women who get CMV for the first-time during pregnancy, 40% of their infants will become infected. The chances of a newborn having severe symptoms are higher if they are infected from an initial infection. If you were infected with CMV before your pregnancy and it is reactivated during pregnancy, the chance of your baby becoming infected is only about 1%. Most of the children who become infected due to reinfection or reactivation have no clinical abnormalities.
How do you reduce your risk of getting CMV in pregnancy?
You can reduce your chances of getting CMV in pregnancy through frequent hand washing especially after contact with saliva or diapers of young children. It is recommended that you wash your hands well for 15-20 seconds. If you work in a daycare setting with children under 2 ½, you may also consider wearing gloves to change diapers. It is also recommended that you avoid oral contact with urine and/or saliva of young children who spend a lot of time in a daycare setting.