Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and Pregnancy

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and Pregnancy


Cytomegalovirus, or CMV, is a common virus for people of all ages. A healthy person’s immune system keeps the virus from making them sick. CMV stays is in a person’s body for life and it can become active again, or a person can get a different variety of CMV. 


Signs of CMV Infection

  • Most people have no signs and do not know that they have been infected.
  • Some people have a mild illness that may cause a fever, feeling tired, sore throat and swollen glands.
  • People with weak immune systems can have more serious signs that can affect their eyes, lungs, liver, or digestive tract.

There is no treatment for CMV in healthy people.


CMV and Pregnancy

If you have never had CMV before and get infected during pregnancy, it is called a primary infection. There is a 1-in-3 chance of passing it on to your baby.  This can happen at any time during pregnancy. It is more likely to cause problems for your baby if it happens in the early part of pregnancy.  Only 10 to 15 of every 100 babies born with CMV have health problems caused by the virus.

If you have been infected with CMV in the past, the virus can become active again, called a recurrent infection.  If this happens during pregnancy it can still pass to your baby, but this is rare and most often does not cause any harm to the baby.
Babies who are infected with CMV during pregnancy can have can have brain, liver, spleen, lung and growth problems.  The most common problem is hearing loss, which may be present soon after birth or may develop later in childhood.
Few problems, if any, happen when CMV is passed to the baby at the time of delivery or later in infancy through breastfeeding. 


How does a person get CMV?

CMV is spread from person to person in body fluids such as saliva, urine, blood, tears, semen, and breast milk. CMV is spread through close contact with a person who has the virus. 


Reduce your risk of CMV infection

  • If you work with or have children, do NOT kiss them on the face and wash your hands after touching them or changing diapers. CMV is common in young children’s saliva and urine.
  • Do not share food, drinks or utensils with others.
  • Wash your hands after uses the restroom.
  • Wash your hands after coming into contact with someone’s saliva, tears, or other body fluids.
  • Avoid new sexual partners (even kissing) during pregnancy.


Testing for CMV

  • A blood test can be used to check for CMV infection in adults who have symptoms.
  • For a newborn baby, testing can be done on the baby’s saliva, urine or blood.
  • Screening for CMV is not recommended during pregnancy since the current tests are not able to show if the baby may be infected.

© 2019 - August 12, 2019, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

This handout is for informational purposes only. Talk with your doctor or healthcare team if you have any questions about your care. For more health information call the Library for Health Information at 614-293-3707 or email: