Congenital Cytomegalovirus Infection of the Newborn
CMV is a common virus that infects people of all ages. Most CMV infections are "silent," meaning the majority of people who are infected with CMV have no signs or symptoms, and there are no harmful effects.
However, when CMV infections occurs during a woman's pregnancy, the baby can become infected before birth. CMV infection of the baby before it's born is called congenital CMV, or cCMV. When this happens, the virus can get transmitted to the unborn baby and can potentially damage the baby's brain, eyes, and hearing.
About 1 out of every 5 babies born with cCMV will develop permanent problems, such as hearing loss or developmental disabilities.
The best way to protect your baby is to protect yourself.
Since the CMV is generally passed from the infected person to others through direct contact with body fluids, such as saliva, take these steps:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for 15-20 seconds, especially after diaper changes, feeding a young child, wiping a child's nose or drool, and handling a child's toys.
- Don't share food, drinks, eating and drinking utensils, or a toothbrush with a child.
- Do not put a child's pacifier in your mouth.
- Avoid contact with a child's saliva when kissing or cuddling.
- Use soap and water or a mild disinfectant to clean toys, counter-tops and other surfaces that may have a child's saliva or urine on them.
CMV Brochure for Providers
CMV Brochure for Women
CMV Brochure for Child Care Providers
CMV 101 Webinar Slides
Article: Targeted Screening for Cytomegalovirus and Hearing Loss, Dr. Karen Fowler
Newborn Testing for Congenital Cytomegalovirus
The Iowa Legislature passed a law in 2017 requiring newborn health care providers to offer testing for cCMV for any of their patients that did not pass their newborn hearing screening (the first test usually done in the hospital and the second re-screen done on an outpatient basis if they did not pass the first test). Information about this law may be found at the following links:
Senate File 51
IDPH Summary of Senate File 51
CMV testing flowchart
Here is information about what is involved in testing a baby for cCMV:
CMV Testing Information for Parents
Parents may refuse to have their baby tested for cCMV for any reason. If they decide to refuse the screening they must complete and sign the refusal form. Providers are required to submit all refusal forms to the Iowa Department of Public Health.
Refusal Form for cCMV Testing
Most children and adults infected with CMV don't feel ill and don't know that they have become infected; others might have mild flu-like symptoms such as fever, sore throat, tiredness, or swollen glands.
A blood, saliva, or urine test can tell whether a person has ever been infected with CMV.
Infants and children who are infected with CMV after birth rarely have problems.
There is no vaccine available to prevent CMV infection. However, a few CMV vaccines are being tested in humans. It is likely to be a few years before the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a CMV vaccine.
Women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, and who have close contact with young children, should discuss their risk for CMV infection with their health care provider.
For more information, call the Center for Congenital and Inherited Disorders at the Iowa Department of Public Health staff at 1-800-383-3826.
Thanks to the Utah Department of Health Early Hearing Detection & Intervention program for the content of this post.