“Spread Prevention, Not the Infection” during Pregnancy: CMV

This year the theme of  National Birth Defects Prevention Month is Prevent to Protect. This week we will be posting a series of guest posts from MotherToBaby’s Kirstie Perrotta, MPH, Lorrie Harris-Sagaribay, MPH, Robert Felix and Susan Sherman of the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS) Zika Task Force. Each day they will respond to one of the top five questions they receive about preventable infectious diseases and what you can do to prevent exposure during pregnancy.

“It’s 2018! I didn’t even know you could get syphilis nowadays!” Yes, I mentioned the stats about syphilis and other infections that can affect pregnancy to the caller who had contacted me through our free MotherToBaby helpline. I thought, this is a great time to educate her as well as others about a variety of infections. Some infections, like Zika, seem to make headlines every week, while others tend to be discussed much less frequently. January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, and this year’s focus is on infection prevention.

I’m pregnant, and my 3-year-old came home from daycare with symptoms of CMV.  Should I be worried? What can I do to prevent getting CMV from her?

CMV is a common virus that spreads through urine, saliva and other body fluids. In pregnancy, CMV can pass from mom to the developing baby (called congenital CMV infection). This could happen if you already had CMV before you got pregnant or if you got a new strain of CMV from your daughter, but it might be more likely to happen if you get a first-time CMV infection from your daughter while you’re pregnant.

Reassuringly, most babies born with congenital CMV infection don’t get sick or have health problems. But about 1 out of every 5 babies with congenital CMV infection has health problems at birth or complications that develop later in childhood. These include developmental disability, vision problems, and hearing loss, even in babies with no signs of congenital CMV infection at birth.

So, how can you prevent getting CMV from your daughter?  There is no surefire way to guarantee that you won’t get it, but the best prevention is the easiest one: wash your hands often. Especially after any contact with your daughter’s urine or saliva. Kissing her on the cheek or the top of the head instead of the mouth or the hands is another way to prevent contact with her saliva. And if you are still concerned, talk to your health care provider about blood tests to detect a current or past CMV infection. For more information, check out our Baby Blog about this topic.

If you have more questions about infections during pregnancy, contact a MotherToBaby expert by phone, email, text message or chat. During National Birth Defects Prevention Month and every day, moms-to-be have the opportunity to #prevent2protect, ensuring the healthiest start to life for their new additions!

Other posts in the series:

“Spread Prevention, Not the Infection” during Pregnancy: Zika

“Spread Prevention, Not the Infection” during Pregnancy: Listeria

“Spread Prevention, Not the Infection” during Pregnancy: Toxoplasmosis

“Spread Prevention, Not the Infection” during Pregnancy: Syphilis

About MotherToBaby 

MotherToBabyis a service of the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS), suggested resources by many agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you have questions about exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding, please call MotherToBaby toll-FREE at 866-626-6847 or try out MotherToBaby’s new text information service by texting questions to (855) 999-3525. You can also visit MotherToBaby.org to browse a library of fact sheets about dozens of viruses, medications, vaccines, alcohol, diseases, or other exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding or connect with all of our resources by downloading the new MotherToBaby free app, available on Android and iOS markets.


  • comment-avatar

    Thank you for highlighting CMV. I do want to add that you can also get it from your son. I know this article was geared toward the question from the reader, hense the daughter reference… I just wanted to clarify that you can get it from your child.