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In the United States, about half of expectant mothers have never been infected with CMV. About 1% to 4% of uninfected mothers have primary (or first) CMV infection during their pregnancy. Most women have no symptoms, although some have a disease that is likemononucleosis. About one third of women who become infected with CMV for the first time during pregnancy pass the virus to their unborn babies. Women who had CMV before getting pregnant can also pass the virus to their unborn babies, but this is less common.
Each year in the United States, about 1 in 750 children are born with or develop disabilities as a result of CMV infection.
Most babies with congenital (meaning from birth) CMV never have health problems. But, in some babies, congenital CMV causes health problems when the baby is born or later in the baby’s life. These health problems may include
Sometimes health problems such as hearing or vision loss do not occur until months or years after birth. With proper care, most infants with CMV disease survive. Of those with symptoms at birth, 80% to 90% will have problems within the first few years of life. These problems may include hearing loss, vision loss, and various degrees of mental retardation. Of those infants with no symptoms at birth, 5% to 10% will later develop various degrees of hearing and mental or coordination problems.
Health problems occur most often among babies born to women who are having their first CMV infection during pregnancy.
Pregnant women can be infected with CMV through sexual contact, blood transfusions, and non-sexual, close contact with infected persons, especially young children. Children can be infected with CMV before birth, during delivery, and through breast feeding, blood transfusions, or contact with other children who have CMV. Infants and children who acquire CMV after birth have few, if any, symptoms or problems.
No actions can eliminate all risks of becoming infected with CMV, but there are measures that can be taken to reduce the spread of CMV:
Practice good personal hygiene, especially hand washing with soap and water after contact with diapers or saliva (particularly with a child who is in day care). Wash well for 15 to 20 seconds.
Do not kiss children under the age of 6 on the mouth or cheek. Instead, kiss them on the head or give them a hug.
Do not share food, drinks, or utensils (spoons or forks) with young children.
If you are pregnant and work in a day care center, reduce your risk of getting CMV by working with children who are older than 2 ½ years of age, especially if you have never been infected with CMV or are unsure if you have been infected.
Date: February 6, 2006 Content source: National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases