Awareness of and behaviors related to child-to-mother transmission of cytomegalovirus

Prev Med. 2012 May;54(5):351-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2012.03.009. Epub 2012 Mar 21.


Objective: Congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection is a common cause of hearing loss and intellectual disability. We assessed CMV knowledge and the frequency of women's behaviors that may enable CMV transmission to inform strategies for communicating prevention messages to women.

Methods: We analyzed survey responses from 4184 participants (2181 women, 2003 men) in the 2010 HealthStyles survey, a national mail survey designed to be similar to the United States population.

Results: Only 7% of men and 13% of women had heard of congenital CMV. Women with children under age 19 (n=918) practiced the following risk behaviors at least once per week while their youngest child was still in diapers: kissing on the lips (69%), sharing utensils (42%), sharing cups (37%), and sharing food (62%). Women practiced protective, hand cleansing behaviors most of the time or always after: changing a dirty diaper (95%), changing a wet diaper (85%), or wiping the child's nose (65%), but less commonly after handling the child's toys (26%).

Conclusions: Few women are aware of CMV and most regularly practice behaviors that may place them at risk when interacting with young children. Women should be informed of practices that can reduce their risk of CMV infection during pregnancy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavior Control* / psychology
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / psychology*
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / transmission
  • Cytomegalovirus* / pathogenicity
  • Diapers, Infant / microbiology
  • Female
  • Hand Disinfection
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Hygiene
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk Reduction Behavior
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States