What is Cytomegalovirus?
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is one of the herpes viruses, a common virus that can affect anyone.
This virus remains constantly dormant in the body once infected, with a little risk of getting reactivated.
CMV is contagious and can be passed through close contact with bodily fluids such as blood, saliva, urine and breast milk.
According to data from the United States, there is an overall CMV seroprevalence rate of 50.4%. (Dioverti & Razonable, 2016) with prevalence increasing with age.
Symptoms of CMV
CMV symptoms are very similar to typical flu symptoms such as fever, sore throat, headache, and swollen glands. This makes it hard to specifically spot if someone have CMV symptoms.
Will my baby be infected with CMV
Women who already test CMV positive before conceiving are at risk of infection reactivation during pregnancy, although there is a very low chance (1-2%) of infecting the unborn baby with the virus. However, if a female tests CMV negative before conceiving but then contracts CMV and tests positive for the first time during pregnancy, she has a much higher chance (30-40%) of her infecting her foetus.
CMV and unborn baby
CMV antibodies in the blood of a pregnant woman may cause infection to the unborn baby through the placenta. This is referred to as congenital CMV.
Congenital CMV affects around 1 in 200 babies. Whilst many of them will not show any symptoms, around 1 in 5 babies with congenital CMV will have problems such as hearing loss, cerebral palsy, premature birth, low birthweight and physical impairment.
There is also risk of potentially life-threatening infection in new-born babies whose immune systems have yet to fully developed.
If I need a sperm donor, does my CMV status affect the choice of donor?
To reduce risks in pregnancy, we strongly advise that a CMV negative woman chooses a CMV negative sperm donor. This reduces the risks to the unborn child.
If a female is CMV positive, she can select a sperm donor who is either positive or negative. However, it is important to point out that there is always a low chance of transmitting congenital CMV to a developing foetus.
Blog written by Caroline Lina Johnson-Mendy MMedSci