Background: To determine whether a behavioral prevention approach reduces child-to-parent transmission of cytomegalovirus.
Methods: Subjects were seronegative mothers whose child was less than 36 months of age and was shedding cytomegalovirus. Nonpregnant women were randomly assigned to three groups. Mothers in the education group (E) were given instructions about protective behaviors (frequent hand washing, wearing latex gloves) and risky behaviors to avoid (intimate contact with the child). Disposable diapers, liquid soap and latex gloves were provided. During biweekly home visits glove and soap use were monitored for an indirect objective measure of adherence to the protective behaviors. Throughout the study mothers self-reported the frequency they engaged in protective and risky behaviors. In addition to the procedures for Group E the adherence and education group (A) also received social reinforcement for adherence and problem solving for any perceived problems with the behavioral recommendations. The control group (C) received no intervention. A fourth group of pregnant women received an intervention equivalent to that of the education group.
Results: Eight of 17 women in Group C and 4 of 11 women in Group E seroconverted. For both E and Group C the average time from enrollment to infection was 4 months (range, 2 to 7 months). Two of 8 women in Group A seroconverted (1 at 3 months and 1 at 8 months). None of 14 pregnant women observed for an average of 8.4 months during pregnancy seroconverted.
Conclusions: These results suggest that intervention for pregnant women is effective because pregnant women will perceive a higher risk and be more motivated to adhere to recommendations than nonpregnant women.