What is Congenital CMV?

July 21, 2018

Finding out that your baby is sick is one of the most gut-wrenching experiences in the life of a parent. Your children are the center of your universe and knowing that they are suffering is a lot to handle.

It can be more overwhelming if the child is diagnosed with something you’ve never heard of, as is often the case with cytomegalovirus (CMV).

Before jumping to the worst of conclusion, it’s important to understand the nature of CMV and what a positive diagnosis means.

Congenital CMV Diagnosis

Cytomegalovirus is a form of herpes and it’s spread through bodily fluids. It’s so common, that a significant amount of the population will have it by middle-age, yet never know it.

The problem with having it during pregnancy is that women will likely pass it on to their baby. About 1 in 200 babies is born with congenital CMV. In a best-case scenario, the baby is born with CMV and never experiences any symptoms. Meanwhile, in a worst-case scenario, the virus can cause pregnancy loss. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that about ⅕ of the babies born with the virus will experience birth defects or long-term health problems. To date, there is no known cure.

Congenital CMV Symptoms

One of the most common signs of CMV in a child is developmental delays. Often, parents don’t notice until their baby is a few months or even a few years old. This is because sometimes, the baby appears to be healthy.

That being said, sometimes a baby will show signs of congenital CMV right from birth. Some of them include:

– Premature birth
– Low birth weight
Microcephaly (the baby’s head is abnormally small)

If the symptoms aren’t obvious at birth, they may become apparent later during infancy. The most serious symptoms include:

– Seizures
– Loss of hearing
– Loss of vision
– Mental retardation

Causes of CMV

Since CMV is a type of herpes, It can be contracted by unprotected sex, blood transfusions, contact with infected saliva, organ transplants from an infected patient, or through breastfeeding.

While it remains dormant in most people, a weakened immune system will increase the likelihood of symptoms, such as a fever, sore throat, joint pain, and decrease eyesight.

Treatment for CMV

Children born with congenital CMV require regular medical monitoring and prescription antiviral medication. Also, since hearing loss is one of its most prevalent consequences, we recommend regular hearing tests. This is more likely to happen during the baby’s first six months of age.

The most popular medication to treat CMV is ganciclovir, which may cause adverse effects on internal organs. It is for this reason that when administered in babies, they may need to remain hospitalized for a while for observation.

Contact us at OB-GYN Women’s Centre

At OB-GYN Women’s Centre, we understand that learning your baby is ill can make you feel overwhelmed and helpless. Let us help you.

Contact us to schedule an appointment.