Objective: To estimate the seroprevalence of cytomegalovirus (CMV), Epstein Barr virus (EBV) and varicella zoster virus (VZV) among pregnant women in Bradford by ethnic group and country of birth.
Methods: A stratified random sample of 949 pregnant women enrolled in the Born in Bradford birth cohort was selected to ensure sufficient numbers of White UK born women, Asian UK born women and Asian women born in Asia. Serum samples taken at 24-28 weeks' gestation were tested for CMV IgG, EBV IgG and VZV IgG. Each woman completed a questionnaire which included socio-demographic information.
Results: CMV seroprevalence was 49% among the White British women, 89% among South Asian UK born women and 98% among South Asian women born in South Asia. These differences remained after adjusting for socio-demographic factors. In contrast, VZV seroprevalence was 95% among women born in the UK but significantly lower at 90% among South Asian women born in Asia. EBV seroprevalence was 94% overall and did not vary by ethnic group/country of birth.
Conclusions: Although about half of White British women are at risk of primary CMV infection in pregnancy and the associated increased risk of congenital infection, most congenital CMV infections are likely to be in children born to South Asian women with non-primary infection during pregnancy. South Asian women born in South Asia are at risk of VZV infection during pregnancy which could produce congenital varicella syndrome or perinatal chickenpox. Differences in CMV and VZV seroprevalence by ethnic group and country of birth must be taken into account when universal immunisation against these viruses is contemplated.