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Aurora magazine

Congenital cytomegalovirus: causes and risks

Cytomegalovirus or Cmv is a worldwide virus that belongs to the same family as Herpes. It is a very common virus, which once contracted remains latent throughout life. The weakening of the immune system can cause its reactivation.

Most often, the cytomegalovirus is asymptomatic and all in all harmless. The infection is instead dangerous for immunocompromised individuals, in which it causes complications in eyes and liver. In addition, congenital cytomegalovirus infections permanently damage the fetus. These occur if the mother contracted the infection during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

Congenital cytomegalovirus can be caused by primary or secondary transmission. In the first case, the mother contracts the virus for the first time during pregnancy. In the second, the first latent virus awakens during pregnancy and infects the fetus. Both types of transmission do not appear to be related to the gestation period. According to some studies, however, there would be more dangers in the first three months.
For the primary form of cytomegalovirus transmission, the risk of congenital cytomegalovirus is between 30% and 40%. For the secondary form, between 0.5% and 2%.

Congenital cytomegalovirus is asymptomatic in 85% to 90% of cases. 10% of asymptomatic infected children show late symptoms, often related to hearing problems. The remaining 10-15% of newborns are symptomatic and show permanent or temporary symptoms of varying severity. Permanent symptoms include deafness, blindness, mental retardation, motion deficit. In some cases, they occur after years of birth, although they are uncommon.

To date there is no vaccine against cytomegalovirus, so we must act on prevention. Transmission occurs mainly through the exchange of body fluids. For this reason, the first way to prevent infection is to wash your hands before eating, after going to the bathroom and after changing a diaper.