Prenatal diagnosis (PD) of fetal cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection was performed in 242 pregnancies, with known outcome in 189 cases. In 141/189 pregnancies, PD was carried out on account of suspicious maternal CMV serology up to gestational week (WG) 23, and in 48 cases on account of abnormal ultrasonic findings detected between WG 18 and 39. Chorionic villus samples (n = 6), amniotic fluid (AF, n = 176) and/or fetal blood specimens (n = 80) were investigated for detection of virus by cell culture, shell vial assay, PCR and/or CMV-specific IgM antibodies. Of 189 fetuses correctly evaluated by CMV detection either in fetal tissue following therapeutic abortion/stillbirth (n = 24) or in urine of neonates within the first 2 weeks of life (n = 33), 57 were congenitally infected. In women with proven or suspected primary infection, the intrauterine transmission rates were 20.6% (7/34) and 24.4% (10/41), respectively. Of the congenitally infected live-born infants, 57.6% (19/33) had symptoms of varying degree. The overall sensitivity of PD in the serologic and ultrasound risk groups was 89.5% (51/57). A sensitivity of 100% was achieved by combining detection of CMV-DNA and CMV-specific IgM in fetal blood or by combined testing of AF and fetal blood for CMV-DNA or IgM antibodies. There was no instance of intrauterine death following the invasive procedure. The predictive value of PD for fetal infection was 95.7% (132/138) for negative results and 100% (51/51) for positive results. Correct results for congenital CMV infection by testing AF samples can be expected with samples obtained after WG 21 and after a time interval of at least 6 weeks between first diagnosis of maternal infection and PD. In case of negative findings in AF or fetal blood and the absence of ultrasound abnormalities at WG 22-23, fetal infection and neonatal disease could be excluded with high confidence. Positive findings for CMV infection in AF and/or fetal blood in combination with CMV suspicious ultrasound abnormalities predicted a high risk of cytomegalic inclusion disease (CID). Furthermore, detection of specific IgM antibodies in fetal blood was significantly correlated with severe outcome for the fetus or the newborn (p = 0.0224). However, normal ultrasound of infected fetuses at WG 22-23 can neither completely exclude an abnormal ultrasound at a later WG and the birth of a severely damaged child nor the birth of neonates which are afflicted by single manifestations at birth or later and of the kind which are not detectable by currently available ultrasonographic techniques.
Copyright 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.