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There are many ways you can help children and their families get the care they need.
At Boston Children’s Hospital, we understand that you may have a lot of questions when your child is diagnosed with congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV).
We’ve tried to provide some answers to those questions here, and when you meet with our experts, we can explain your child’s condition and treatment options fully.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about .6 percent of babies born in the United States are infected with cytomegalovirus. Most of these babies appear completely normal at birth, but about 20 percent of them will develop symptoms as they grow.
The CDC also reports that 1 to 4 percent of women first become infected with CMV during pregnancy. With a first infection during pregnancy, there is a higher risk that after birth the baby may have complications related to the virus.
CMV without symptoms is common in people of all ages.
Most (up to 90 percent) of babies born with congenital cytomegalovirus experience no immediate symptoms; however, premature birth or abnormally low birth weight are possible signs of infection.
Some babies who appear healthy at birth may develop problems as they grow.These may include the following:
If you know your child was born with a CMV infection, make sure to have her hearing and vision checked regularly to monitor for any problems.
If your child is treated early, there should be no serious consequences of CMV. However, if treatment is delayed, your child may suffer some serious health problems as a result of the infection. For more information, see the Treatment and Care tab.
Many parents are concerned about CMV and can have lots of questions about the condition and how it can affect their baby.
You may find it helpful to jot down questions as they arise—that way, when you talk to your doctor, you can be sure that all of your concerns are addressed.
Here are some questions to get you started:
CMV is a very common infection among people of all ages. Most people who have the virus don’t show any symptoms; however, they can still pass on the infection to others.
And while scientists are currently working to develop a vaccine to provide immunity to CMV, there is currently no vaccine and no cure for the infection. So prevention is the best treatment.
Here are a few tips for pregnant women to help avoid becoming infected with CMV:
Q: What is cytomegalovirus (CMV)?
A: CMV is a virus related to the herpes virus group of infections.
Q: How common is CMV?
A: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about .6 percent of babies born in the United States are infected with cytomegalovirus. Most of these babies appear completely normal at birth, but about 20 percent of them will develop symptoms as they grow.
Q: Why is CMV a problem?
A: While most people infected with CMV have no symptoms (and don’t need any treatment), babies born with congenital CMV can have problems related to breathing, hearing and seeing as well as mental disabilities.
Q: Is there any way to prevent infection?
A: Although an infected person may transmit the virus at any time, proper hand washing with soap and water is effective in removing the virus from the hands. It’s also best to refrain from sharing food and drink with others while you are pregnant. Research is also underway to develop a vaccine to provide immunity to CMV.
Q: How is CMV diagnosed?
A: Most CMV infections in the mother are not diagnosed because the virus produces few symptoms. However, the virus can be detected using the following tests:
· Blood test — checking for antibodies in the mother’s bloodstream
· Swab culture — taking a sample with a cotton swab from the throat of the mother or the baby
· Urine test — checking the urine of the mother or the baby
If you are pregnant and know that you’ve had CMV in the past or know that you’re currently infected, ask your doctor to perform a test.
Q: What symptoms might my baby have?
A: Most (up to 90 percent) of babies born with congenital cytomegalovirus experience no immediate symptoms; however, premature birth or an abnormally low birth weight are possible signs of infection.
Q: What are our treatment options?
A: Here at Children’s, physicians in our Division of Infectious Diseases treats congenital cytomegalovirus in infants.
For more information, see the Treatment and Care tab.
Q: What is my child’s long-term outlook?
A:If your child is treated early, there should be no serious consequences of CMV. However, if treatment is delayed, your child may suffer some serious health problems as a result of the infection.
Q: What makes Children’s different?
A: Our physicians are expert, compassionate and committed to focusing on the whole child, not just his condition—that’s one reason we’re frequently ranked as a top pediatric hospital in the United States.
And at Children’s, we consider you and your child integral parts of the care team and not simply recipients of care. You and your care team will work together to customize a plan of care for your child.
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”