Cytomegalovirus in newborns is one of the most common congenital infections in the US. Most of the newborns contract the virus while in the mother’s womb. This article provides information regarding the same.
Cytomegalovirus is a common virus that belongs to the herpes family. It causes the largest number of viral infections in humans. It is present in the blood, urine, saliva, respiratory secretions, tears, feces, breast milk, semen, and cervical secretions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in every 150 children in the US is born with congenital CMV. It is the leading cause of non-hereditary deafness in children.
The infection of cytomegalovirus during pregnancy is a cause of concern as it can be passed on from the mother to the unborn child. In this case, it is called congenital CMV. It may also be passed on to the baby while breastfeeding. In majority of the cases, newborns develop no serious problems; however, sometimes it may grow into a serious illness and lead to a lifelong disability or death.
When there is an infection during pregnancy, there is a higher risk of complications developing in the baby. Serious complications in newborns include:
- Hearing loss
- Visual impairment
- Mental retardation
- Cerebral palsy
- Lack of coordination
Most of the infections of the virus in neonates do not show any visible symptoms. However, the following symptoms may point out towards the contagion.
- Jaundice, that is, yellow skin and eyes
- Purple skin rash or splotches
- Low weight at birth
- Enlarged spleen
- Enlarged and poor functioning liver
The infected children are very ill and develop permanent disabilities. You may find a baby healthy at birth; however, it may develop symptoms of infection in few months or years after birth.
Other Ways of Contracting this Disease
It is present in human body fluids like saliva and respiratory secretions. Thus, coming in contact with an infected person or surface can be contagious. Babies can contract it while at nurseries or daycare centers. Most pregnant women contract this virus through their own toddlers or babies and therefore, it can be very dangerous for the unborn child.
If you have preschoolers or toddlers at home that attend daycare, it is very important to get yourself tested for this infection. If you are pregnant and never had CMV, then avoid kissing young children, even your own, near the mouth and cheek. If you are tested positive, make sure you follow all the guidelines of your doctor. Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly after handling baby diapers, and avoid sharing utensils with your kids and coming in contact with anyone you suspect may have this virus.
Ganciclovir and valganciclovir are antiviral treatments for newborns with symptoms of congenital CMV. These medications minimize the possibility of permanent hearing loss and improves the growth of the brain.
Studies are being conducted to determine whether the administration of hyperimmune globulin to pregnant women with CMV infection will reduce the chances of congenital or neonatal infection in the newborn child.
Today, there is no vaccine for this infection; however, it is possible to have one within the next 10 to 20 years with the support of the pharmaceutical industry and the federal government.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.