Objective: To determine the feasibility of prenatal diagnosis of fetal cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection.
Methods: Fifty-two pregnant women were investigated in our unit between October 1985 and July 1992. The diagnostic procedures included ultrasound examination, amniocentesis, and fetal blood sampling. Specific tests for CMV infection included specific immunoglobulin (Ig) M antibodies, viral culture, and amplification of CMV DNA by polymerase chain reaction. Nonspecific tests included white blood cell count, hemoglobin, hematocrit, platelets, and gamma-glutamyl transferase determination.
Results: The combination of tests allowed an antenatal diagnosis of CMV in 13 of the 16 infected fetuses (sensitivity 81%). Amniocentesis allowed the diagnosis in 12 of the 13 antenatally diagnosed cases. The sensitivity of CMV IgM antibody detection in fetal blood was 69%. The culture of fetal blood was never positive. Thrombocytopenia was present in six cases, and ultrasound was abnormal in five.
Conclusions: Amniotic fluid is the best sample to diagnose CMV infection, and fetal blood sampling and sonography are important to assess the fetal condition. Our experience underscores the importance of repetitive sampling.