Congenital cytomegalovirus is a group of symptoms that occur when an infant is infected with the cytomegalovirus (CMV) before birth.
CMV - congenital; Congenital CMV; Cytomegalovirus - congenital
Congenital cytomegalovirus occurs when an infected mother passes CMV to the fetus through the placenta. The mother's illness may not have symptoms, so she may be unaware that she has CMV.
Most congenitally infected children do not have symptoms. Only about 1 out of 10 infants congenitally infected with CMV have these symptoms:
Exams and Tests
During the exam, the health care provider may find:
- Enlarged liver
- Enlarged spleen
- Psychomotor retardation
There is no specific treatment for congenital CMV. Treatments, such as physical therapy and appropriate education for children with psychomotor retardation, focus on specific problems.
Treatment with antiviral medications, such as the drug ganciclovir, is often used for infants with neurologic symptoms. It may reduce hearing loss later in the child's life.
Up to 90% of infants who have symptoms of their infection at birth will have neurologic abnormalities later in life. Only about 5 to 10% of infants without symptoms will have these problems.
Some children may die while they are an infant.
- Psychomotor retardation
- Vision problems or blindness
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Have your baby checked right away if he or she was not examined by a health care provider shortly after birth and you suspect that the head is small or you notice other symptoms of congenital CMV.
If your baby has congenital CMV, it is important to follow the health care provider's recommendations for well-baby examinations. That way, any growth and development problems can be identified early, and treated promptly.
Cytomegalovirus is almost everywhere in the environment. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend the following steps to reduce the spread of CMV:
Wash hands with soap and water after touching diapers or saliva.
Avoid kissing children under the age of 6 on the mouth or cheek.
Do not share food, drinks, or eating utensils with young children.
Pregnant women working in a day care center should work with children older than age 2 1/2.
Crumpacker CS II, Zhang JL. Cytomegalovirus. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2009:chap 138.
Swanson EC. Congenital cytomegalovirus infection: new prospects for prevention and therapy. Pediatr Clin North Am. 2013 April 1; 60(2):335-49.