Prevention of congenital cytomegalovirus complications by maternal and neonatal treatments: a systematic review

Rev Med Virol. 2014 Nov;24(6):420-33. doi: 10.1002/rmv.1814. Epub 2014 Oct 14.


Human cytomegalovirus is the leading non-genetic cause of congenital malformation in developed countries. Congenital CMV may result in fetal and neonatal death or development of serious clinical sequelae. In this review, we identified evidence-based interventions for prevention of congenital CMV at the primary level (prevention of maternal infection), secondary level (risk reduction of fetal infection and disease) and tertiary level (risk reduction of infected neonates being affected by CMV). A systematic review of existing literature revealed 24 eligible studies that met the inclusion criteria. Prevention of maternal infection using hygiene and behavioural interventions reduced maternal seroconversion rates during pregnancy. However, evidence suggested maternal adherence to education on preventative behaviours was a limiting factor. Treatment of maternal CMV infection with hyperimmune globulin (HIG) showed some evidence for efficacy in prevention of fetal infection and fetal/neonatal morbidity with a reasonable safety profile. However, more robust clinical evidence is required before HIG therapy can be routinely recommended. Limited evidence also existed for the safety and efficacy of established CMV antivirals (valaciclovir, ganciclovir and valganciclovir) to treat neonatal consequences of CMV infection, but toxicity and lack of randomised clinical trial data remain major issues. In the absence of a licensed CMV vaccine or robust clinical evidence for anti-CMV therapeutics, patient education and behavioural interventions that emphasise adherence remain the best preventative strategies for congenital CMV. There is a strong need for further data on the use of HIG and other antivirals in pregnancy, as well as the development of less toxic, novel, antiviral agents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cytomegalovirus / drug effects
  • Cytomegalovirus / physiology*
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / congenital
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / drug therapy
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / prevention & control*
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / transmission*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / drug therapy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / prevention & control*
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / virology


  • Antiviral Agents