Foetal cytomegalovirus (CMV) syndrome is a foetopathy likely to occur when a pregnant woman is infected by the cytomegalovirus. In France, 60% of women of childbearing age are CMV positive. Primary maternal infection occurs in 1 to 4% of pregnancies, and in this case 0.2 to 2% of neonates show symptoms of congenital CMV infection. Affected children may have growth retardation, brain anomalies (microcephaly, microcalcifications, intellectual deficit), eye anomalies (chorioretinitis and visual impairment), liver dysfunction (hepatomegaly, hepatic insufficiency, hyperbilirubinemia), or splenomegaly. Most CMV infections during pregnancy are asymptomatic. Gestational age has no influence on the risk of transmission to the foetus. However, the severity of the disease tends to be worse when infection takes place before 20 weeks of gestation. Recurrent maternal CMV infections typically have no clinically apparent effects in the neonatal period, except in rare cases. Diagnosis is based on virus detection in the amniotic fluid by molecular biology and/or cell culture. However, as an efficient preventive or curative treatment is not yet available, systematic screening for CMV primary infection during pregnancy should not be performed.
Last update: February 2006
- Dr Elisabeth ROBERT-GNANSIA