What Is The CMV Virus?

CMV or Cytomegalovirus is a common virus in the herpes-virus family and it is the most common cause for infection during pregnancy world wide.

Approximately 80% of the population is infected by the virus during childhood.

Most people with CMV infection have no symptoms. In some cases, the infection can cause mild illness resembling a cold that may include a sore throat and fever.

The CMV virus is not dangerous for most of the population, and is in fact medically relevant to two main groups:

  1. People with a weakened immune system, such as those receiving treatment for HIV/AIDS, cancer or people receiving organ transplants.

  2. Fetuses of women who are infected with the virus prior to or during pregnancy.

CMV During Pregnancy - Congenital Cytomegalovirus Infection

Once a pregnant woman becomes infected with CMV, her developing baby may be at risk for congenital (meaning from birth) CMV disease, since the virus in the woman's blood can cross through the placenta and (potentially) infect the baby.

When a pregnant woman experiences a primary infection, meaning the pregnant woman becomes infected with the virus for the first time during pregnancy, the chance that the baby will end up with health problems is much higher than during a recurrent infection.

For more details about the difference between a primary infection and a recurrent infection please see the FAQ tab.

In the past, there was a tendency among many physicians to recommend termination of pregnancy in cases of primary infection during pregnancy.

However, as detailed below, the current medical perception, based on many comprehensive studies which were conducted in Israel and worldwide, is that in most cases the pregnancy can be continued with a close follow-up of an infectious disease specialist or an obstetrician who specializes in CMV.

Studies show that in most cases of virus infection, the fetus will not be infected, and most babies with congenital CMV infection never show signs or have health problems and they grow up with normal health.

In addition, Israeli studies show, that cytomegalovirus -associated severe damages can be detected in targeted ultrasound scans and thus prevent the birth of babies who are severely damaged due to congenital cytomegalovirus infection.

For more information about targeted ultrasound scans please see the Monitoring Pregnant Women with CMV tab.

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