Even if you've done your homework on the topic of pregnancy health and wellness, cytomegalovirus (CMV) might not ring a bell. Despite its prevalence (between 50-80 percent of the US population has had a CMV infection by the age of 40), in healthy adults, it's generally harmless, with symptoms like sore throat, fever, fatigue, and swollen glands. Congenital CMV, however, can cause a host of other problems.
According to the National CMV Foundation, about one in every 200 babies born in the US has the virus. While CMV can be asymptomatic, approximately 20 percent of those infected infants will experience birth defects that can include hearing loss, vision impairment, varying degrees of learning disability, and decreased muscle strength and coordination.
If you are diagnosed with CMV during pregnancy, your doctor can perform an amniocentesis to determine whether the infection has passed on to the unborn baby. Discuss options with your doctor as needed.
While there is no routine protocol currently in place for screening at the time of birth, if a newborn shows physical symptoms of a potential virus, saliva, blood, or urine tests can be run. While it's not a fun topic, it's a good idea to educate yourself, and talk to your doctor about risks and options regarding congenital CMV.
Learn more about CMV here.