CMV During Pregnancy - Everything You Need To Know

CMV During Pregnancy

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Viral infections during pregnancy can be quite dangerous and lead to lasting complications. A CMV or cytomegalovirus infection is one such infection that can complicate your pregnancy and endanger your unborn baby. If you suspect a CMV infection, or exhibit any of its symptoms, you need to consult your doctor immediately. In the meanwhile, here is a short overview of a CMV infection and how it affects your pregnancy.

What Is A CMV Infection?

A cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a virus that affects people from all age groups. CMV belongs to the family of the herpes virus. Like all herpes virus, the CMV can also remain dormant before becoming active again. The CMV infection is quite common, but its symptoms typically surface in people with poor immunity [1].

[ Read: Viral Infections During Pregnancy ]

CMV During Pregnancy:

The CMV can become active in pregnant women who have been previously infected with the virus. With such reactivation and with a primary infection (first time), there is a risk that CMV infection is transmitted to the fetus as well. Such infection is called congenital CMV (since birth) [2].

Causes Of CMV During Pregnancy:

CMV infection occurs when a pregnant woman with low immunity is infected by the Cytomegalovirus. In some cases, the virus remains dormant in the body. Some probable ways the CMV can transmit from one person to another, include:

  • Close contact with another person with CMV infection (through body fluids)
  • Organ transplantations
  • Blood transfusions
  • Pregnant women to fetus
  • Breastfeeding [3]

[ Read: Herpes During Pregnancy ]

Symptoms Of CMV During Pregnancy:

The symptoms of CMV infection rarely manifest in healthy humans. Infants with congenital CMV and perinatal CMV (shortly after birth, for instance through breast milk feeding) and people with poor immunity have greater chances of developing symptoms of CMV infection during pregnancy [4]. In rare cases, congenital CMV can also be fatal [5].

Temporary Symptoms Of Congenital CMV:

  • Problems in spleen, lung and liver
  • Jaundice
  • Purple blotches on skin
  • Seizures
  • Small size of infants at birth

Permanent Symptoms Of Congenital CMV:

  • Mental disability
  • Loss of vision
  • Hearing loss
  • Issues with coordination
  • Seizures
  • Small size of head
  • Lack of cognitive development
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Brain damage

[ Read: Hearing Problems In Pregnancy ]

If you are pregnant or planning your pregnancy, then you must talk to your doctor about CMV and how you can protect yourself from the same. The typical symptoms of CMV in pregnancy include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Pneumonia
  • Hepatitis
  • Digestive track ulcers
  • Swelling in the brain
  • Vision loss
  • Seizures
  • Changes in behavior
  • Coma

Diagnosing Cytomegalovirus During Pregnancy:

Doctors typically use a routine blood test for diagnosing CMV infection. These tests detect the antibodies in the blood that develop due to CMV infection [6]. If you develop flu-like symptoms, consult your doctor for any potential CMV risks. It could be a primary infection or reactivation. It could also be just flu or fever. Depending upon your individual case, your doctor can decide on your testing and diagnosis methods.

Some tests such as amniocentesis (amniotic fluid testing) and perinatal ultrasounds can confirm CMV infections in pregnant women and the risk of exposure to the fetus [7].

[ Read: Common Infections During Pregnancy ]

Treating CMV During Pregnancy:

Unfortunately, there aren’t any vaccines to protect you from CMV. For pregnant women with CMV, there is also no specific treatment available. Any tests that exist for CMV infection are not safe for pregnant women. These treatments are also not useful for protecting the fetus from CMV infection [8].

If necessary, your doctor may provide you with cytomegalovirus treatment in pregnancy for specific symptoms such as fever or pneumonia.

Preventing CMV During Pregnancy:

If you are pregnant or planning your pregnancy then some preventive measures can help you to avoid CMV infection.

  • Hand washing with soap and clean running water for up to 20 seconds can reduce your chances of contracting infections. It is especially important if you are in close contact with babies while tending to tasks such as feeding, nappy changing, playing with their toys, touching their nose fluids, saliva or tears.
  • Regularly clean kitchen surfaces, floors, toys in the house with a mild detergent and rinse them properly with clean water.
  • Women who closely work with children (such as in a daycare center) or in the healthcare sector must take special precaution with hand washing as they are at greater risk from CMV virus exposure. A simple act of kissing a baby can mean coming in contact with his saliva. It can mean exposure to CMV virus. Such considerations are crucial for pregnant women to avoid CMV infection.
  • Safe sex practices are extremely important to prevent the risk of CMV exposure during pregnancy.
  • Avoid sharing utensils and food with others as these practices can increase the risk of cytomegalovirus infection during pregnancy.
  • It may not always be possible for you to avoid exposure to CMV infection. But if you are pregnant, you should pay special attention to preventive measures against CMV infection.

[ Read: Upper Respiratory Tract Infection During Pregnancy ]

Facts About CMV Infection And Pregnancy:

Here are some important points/facts about CMV and pregnancy.

  • During pregnancy, if you experience fatigue, muscle ache, and fever, it is a good sign to consult your doctor to check if you are experiencing reactivation of your CMV infection or perhaps developing a primary infection. Your doctor can suggest measures to control the infection and minimize risk to your unborn child.
  • Women with primary CMV infection during their pregnancy and that too during the first half of their term pose a greater risk to their unborn babies. In the case of primary infection during pregnancy, it is ideal for women to wait at least a year before becoming pregnant again.
  • Reactivation of CMV virus during pregnancy may or may not harm the women or the fetus. In rare cases, CMV may result in stillbirth.

Did you contract a CMV infection during your pregnancy? How did you handle the symptoms? Please share some tips with our readers below.

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