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Cytomegalovirus infection in pregnancy

Jeanne S Sheffield, MD
Suresh B Boppana, MD
Section Editors
Louise Wilkins-Haug, MD, PhD
Martin S Hirsch, MD
Deputy Editor
Vanessa A Barss, MD, FACOG


Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a ubiquitous DNA herpesvirus that causes a wide variety of clinical manifestations. It is the most common congenital viral infection, with birth prevalence of about 0.5 percent (range 0.2 to 2.5 percent) [1,2]. The factors responsible for transmission to the fetus and severity of congenital CMV infection are not well understood. Preexisting maternal CMV seropositivity substantially decreases, but does not completely eliminate, fetal infection, suggesting partial protection from maternal immunity [3,4].

Although the majority of congenital infections are asymptomatic, 5 to 20 percent of infants born to mothers with primary CMV infection are overtly symptomatic. These children have a mortality rate of about 5 percent, and severe neurologic morbidity occurs in 50 to 60 percent of survivors [5,6]. Asymptomatic infants are also at risk of developing long-term neurodevelopment morbidity, but the risk is much lower than in symptomatic neonates.

CMV infection in pregnant women and fetuses will be reviewed here. CMV in newborns, infants, and children, as well as in immunocompetent and immunocompromised hosts, is discussed separately. (See "Epidemiology, clinical manifestations, and treatment of cytomegalovirus infection in immunocompetent adults" and "Congenital cytomegalovirus infection: Clinical features and diagnosis".) Also see topics related to CMV in specific settings of immunocompromise (eg, transplant recipients, HIV infection).


CMV infections in pregnant women are classified as:

Primary if the initial acquisition of virus (ie, seroconversion from negative to positive) occurs during pregnancy


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Jun 1, 2016.
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