Background: Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is now the most common cause of viral intrauterine infection. Fetal damage is mostly linked to maternal primary infection. It is therefore important to differentiate primary from recurrent or persistent HCMV infection in pregnant females. For this purpose, IgM tests are not reliable enough and the measurement of the IgG avidity appears to be presently the best method.
Objective: To evaluate the performance of the measurement of HCMV-IgG avidity by a 8 M urea denaturation assay in predicting congenital infection in the offspring.
Study design: Seventy-eight women were included in this study on the basis of a HCMV IgM positive or equivocal result on a first serum during pregnancy, but without a documented seroconversion history. The IgG avidity was measured and correlated with the outcome of the pregnancy.
Results: In eight cases of HCMV in utero infection the maternal HCMV-IgG avidity index was below 50%. One case of HCMV in utero infection was observed despite a high avidity index during the second trimester of the pregnancy. High or intermediate HCMV-IgG avidity indexes during the first trimester of pregnancy were not associated with a congenital infection.
Conclusions: Even in the presence of an IgM positive result, an HCMV IgG avidity index above 65% on a serum obtained during the first trimester of pregnancy could reasonably be considered as a good indicator of past HCMV infection. In these conditions invasive prenatal diagnosis is not necessary.