Q&A: What Is Cytomegalovirus?

What is cytomegalovirus and how could it affect my pregnancy?
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profile picture of Ashley S. Roman, MD
Updated March 2, 2017
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Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a virus that often has the symptoms of a mild illness, like swollen glands or a low-grade fever, and sometimes has no symptoms at all. But it’s a really scary thing to have during pregnancy. That’s because the virus can cross the placenta and infect the fetus — and it’s been associated with a number of problems including blindness and deafness at birth. The good news is that you can prevent getting CMV by avoiding bodily fluids of anyone who might be infected. If you’ve got another child and you’re changing diapers (or potty training), be sure to wash your hands frequently.

If you find out you have CMV, unfortunately, there’s no proven treatment at this time. You’ll be able to have your baby checked for congenital CMV infection at birth. If he has it, he should have regular hearing and vision exams, since problems can develop over time, even if he’s healthy at birth. Luckily, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 80 percent of babies born with CMV grow up without health problems related to the virus.

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