Cytomegalovirus Infection in Pregnancy: Prevention, Presentation, Management and Neonatal Outcomes

J Midwifery Womens Health. 2021 May;66(3):397-402. doi: 10.1111/jmwh.13228. Epub 2021 May 24.


Congenital cytomegalovirus (cCMV) is the most common congenital infection in the United States, with 1 of 200 live births affected. It is the leading viral cause of intrauterine fetal demise and miscarriage. It is a common cause of neonatal hearing loss, second only to genetic factors. Yet, health care provider awareness remains low. The purpose of this article is to provide a brief overview of the epidemiology, presentation, diagnosis, and treatment of antenatal cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection and cCMV in the neonate. Maternal CMV infection in pregnancy often presents with mild cold-like symptoms or is asymptomatic. The virus can be vertically transmitted to a growing fetus, the risk of transmission and severity of fetal impact varying by timing of exposure during pregnancy. Most neonates born with cCMV show no signs at birth, yet 15% to 25% will have long-term adverse neurodevelopmental conditions. Misconceptions that cCMV cannot be prevented or that neonates born without signs of the disease will be unaffected are common. Evidence supporting antenatal education around behavioral change to lower a woman's risk of acquiring CMV during pregnancy is mounting. CMV infection during pregnancy should be co-managed with a maternal-fetal medicine specialist. There is early evidence for the use of antiviral medication in reducing risk of vertical transmission. Identification of cCMV during pregnancy may help ensure the neonate receives timely treatment after birth. Midwives can play an important role in providing antenatal education about cCMV risk reduction and in initiating a diagnostic evaluation when there is clinical suspicion.

Keywords: CMV; congenital cytomegalovirus; cytomegalovirus; fetal infection.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections* / diagnosis
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections* / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Fetal Diseases*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / prevention & control
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious* / diagnosis
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious* / drug therapy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious* / prevention & control