Review of cytomegalovirus seroprevalence and demographic characteristics associated with infection

Rev Med Virol. 2010 Jul;20(4):202-13. doi: 10.1002/rmv.655.


Cytomegalovirus establishes a lifelong latent infection following primary infection that can periodically reactivate with shedding of infectious virus. Primary infection, reactivation and reinfection during pregnancy can all lead to in utero transmission to the developing fetus. Congenital CMV infections are a major cause of permanent hearing loss and neurological impairment. In this literature review, we found that CMV infection was relatively common among women of reproductive age, with seroprevalence ranging from 45 to 100%. CMV seroprevalence tended to be highest in South America, Africa and Asia and lowest in Western Europe and United States. Within the United States, CMV seroprevalence showed substantial geographic variation as well, differing by as much as 30 percentage points between states, though differences might be explained by variation in the types of populations sampled. Worldwide, seroprevalence among non-whites tended to be 20-30 percentage points higher than that of whites (summary prevalence ratio (PR) = 1.59, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.57-1.61). Females generally had higher seroprevalences than males, although in most studies the differences were small (summary PR = 1.13, 95% CI = 1.11-1.14). Persons of lower socioeconomic status were more likely to be CMV seropositive (summary PR = 1.33, 95% CI = 1.32-1.35). Despite high seroprevalences in some populations, a substantial percentage of women of reproductive age are CMV seronegative and thus at risk of primary CMV infection during pregnancy. Future vaccine or educational campaigns to prevent primary infection in pregnant women may need to be tailored to suit the needs of different populations.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Cytomegalovirus / immunology*
  • Cytomegalovirus / isolation & purification
  • Cytomegalovirus / physiology
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / ethnology
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / immunology*
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / transmission
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / ethnology
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / immunology
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies


  • Antibodies, Viral