Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a virus related to the herpes virus group of infections. Like herpes, it is inactive at times, but it is an incurable, life-time infection. CMV is a major concern if a mother becomes first infected while pregnant.

  • The virus normally produces no symptoms in people who are generally healthy.
  • Symptoms of a CMV infection may look similar to mononucleosis (fever, swollen glands, constant fatigue, tonsillitis, liver malfunction).
  • It is estimated that half of all adults are or have been infected by the time they reach 30 years old.
  • CMV may be a worry for organ transplant recipients, who may have acquired the virus from the donor or may have a re-activation of the infection due to immune-suppression therapy.
  • About 1 to 4 percent of women first become infected while pregnant.
  • Complications from a congenital (present at birth) CMV infection include hearing loss, mental retardation or epilepsy.

How Boston Children's Hospital approaches cytomegalovirus

Because CMV could be a concern for newborn babies, doctors at Children’s believe that diagnosis and treatment are most beneficial when they come early; these may include prenatal screening for infection and administering of anti-viral agents. Researchers at Children’s are also looking for ways to prevent transmission of CMV from breast milk to pre-term infants, and ways to manage CMV for organ transplant recipients.