My husband CMV positive, I am negative, what about the Baby?

Question

My husband of four years tested positive for CMV, but doctor says the virus is inactive. I tested negative. Is it posibble that I or the baby become infected with CMV when IVF is performed. Is there a way to detect whether the unborn child is infected. Please advise.

Answer

When a mother acquires cytomegalovirus infection for the first time during pregnancy, there is a risk of passing the infection to the baby in the womb, with subsequent development of mental retardation and hearing loss in some babies (overall about 15%; especially if infection occurs during the first half of infection). Thus many women understandably worry about contracting CMV for the first time during pregnancy.

CMV is a very common virus. Once it infects an individual, it stays with that individual for life; infected individuals can periodically shed the virus in oral secretions, seminal or cervical fluids, or in urine. Because CMV infection is common, unrecognized exposure to aymptomatic individuals sedding CMV probably occurs quite commonly. Thus, pregnant women who are CMV negative should be especially careful about good hygiene practices (universal precautions and careful hand washing). There are no specific recommendations regarding CMV and discordant couples; IVF may reduce the risk of transmission but I am not aware of any studies addressing this. I would urge you to discuss your concerns with your obstetric care provider, who can monitor your infection status.