Objective: To assess prospectively the diagnostic reliability and prognostic significance of prenatal diagnosis of cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection.
Methods: One hundred ten pregnant women (four with twin pregnancies) with a risk of congenital CMV infection were investigated. Prenatal diagnosis was carried out by amniocentesis and fetal blood sampling (n = 75) or amniocentesis alone (n = 35). Serial ultrasonographic examinations were performed from time of referral until pregnancy end. All infected neonates were given long-term follow-up. Autopsy was performed in all cases of termination of pregnancy.
Results: Nearly 23% (26 of 114) of fetuses were infected and prenatal diagnosis was positive in 20 cases. Sensitivity of prenatal diagnosis was 77% and specificity 100%. In eight cases, parents requested termination of pregnancy on the basis of abnormal ultrasonographic findings and/or biologic abnormalities in fetal blood. In 12 cases, parents decided to proceed with the pregnancy. In this group, one intrauterine and one neonatal death were observed. In one case, prenatal diagnosis revealed an abnormal cerebral sonography and the infant had bilateral hearing loss at birth. In 15 cases (nine positive and six false-negative prenatal diagnoses), no apparent lesion was present at birth, nor did it develop during the follow-up period (mean 31 months). In 88 (77.2%) of 114 infants, no evidence of vertical transmission was found during the pre- or postnatal period.
Conclusion: Prenatal diagnosis provides the optimal means for both diagnosing fetal infection (amniocentesis) and identifying fetuses at risk of severe sequelae (ultrasound examination, fetal blood sampling), thus allowing proper counseling.