Cytomegalovirus infection of extremely low-birth weight infants via breast milk

Clin Infect Dis. 2001 Dec 15;33(12):1998-2003. doi: 10.1086/324345. Epub 2001 Nov 12.


In addition to seroprevalence and transmission rate, the clinical symptoms of postnatal cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection in infants with a very low birth weight (VLBW; <1500 g; <32 weeks gestational age at birth) were assessed in a 3-year prospective study. CMV monitoring included serologic testing (of the mother and child) and virus culture and PCR (of samples of both breast milk and the infant's urine). Within 3 weeks of the initial virus detection in the infant, clinical and laboratory parameters were evaluated. Of 170 infants, no CMV transmission was found in the 80 infants of seronegative mothers and in the 3 infants of seropositive mothers who did not shed CMV DNA into breast milk. Transmission occurred in 33 of the 87 CMV-exposed infants, 16 of whom presented with such symptoms as hepatopathy, neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, and sepsis-like deterioration. Low birth weight and early postnatal virus transmission were risk factors for symptomatic infection. VLBW infants of CMV-seropositive mothers are at high risk of acquiring a symptomatic CMV infection postnatally via breast milk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / transmission
  • DNA, Viral / analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Very Low Birth Weight*
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical
  • Liver Diseases / virology
  • Male
  • Milk, Human / virology*


  • DNA, Viral