There are various infections which the mother can pass to her unborn child. One of them is cytomegalovirus. Find out more about this type of infection, its transmission and the ways in which it can affect your baby.
What Is It?
Cytomegalovirus infection, also known as CMV, is a virus that was derived from the herpes family. It is spread through various bodily fluids, including blood, semen, urine, breast milk and saliva. According to research, there are approximately one percent of newborn babies that have CMV.
How Can a Woman Get Infected?
The transmission of the virus can happen during sexual intercourse and blood transfusion. Sometimes, it is also transmitted through coughs and sneezing. There are some symptoms of this disease including high fever, fatigue and muscle weakness, but they are very rare and usually go away fairly quickly. For this reason, many people that are infected with CMV are unaware of it. Those with impaired immunity will experience more serious symptoms such as diarrhea and pneumonia.
How Can CMV Be Passed to a Baby?
There are two ways in which a woman can pass cytomegalovirus to her child. It can be passed through the placenta during pregnancy. It can also be transmitted through breast milk during the period when a mother is nursing her baby.
What Are the Risks?
It is important to note that the virus will remain dormant in the cells of a person who has been infected with it until the end of his/her life. The risk of a dormant virus being passed by a woman onto her baby is around 1 per cent. The risk of the child experiencing any complications is even lower.
It is possible for a woman to get infected with the virus during pregnancy. The risk of her passing the active virus to her child is quite high. It is between 30 and 50 per cent. The risk of complications for the baby is also greater. At the same time, the risk of her getting infected is fairly low. It is between 1 and 4 per cent. This is certainly good news. Another optimistic statistic is that of all newborns infected with CMV, some 85 to 90 per cent do not have any symptoms or complications which may affect their health.
Pregnant women can lower their chances of getting infected with cytomegalovirus by maintaining good personal hygiene and refraining from kissing and sharing utensils with young children, who are often carriers of the virus. Practicing safe sex is also important.