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  1. Mestas, Erin MSN, NNP-BC, CLC


Background: Congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) is the leading viral intrauterine infection in the United States. It causes more developmental delays and long-term sequelae than Down syndrome (trisomy 21), neural tube defects, or fetal alcohol syndrome combined. Yet, this virus, a member of the herpes virus family, is not well known to the public and its prevention is typically not discussed in obstetric offices. Although many infants with congenital CMV are asymptomatic at birth, a significant proportion still may develop sequelae. Symptomatic infants face potentially devastating consequences. Pharmacologic treatment is reserved for those with severe organ or central nervous system involvement. Treatment of infants with congenital CMV can be complex and requires extensive outpatient follow-up.


Purpose: To educate nurses and nurse practitioners regarding the risks, signs, treatment, and care related to congenital CMV.


Methods/Search Strategies: PubMed was searched to obtain English language publications from 2005 to 2015 for studies examining the current knowledge base of congenital cytomegalovirus, sequelae, and subsequent treatment using key terms "cytomegalovirus" combined with "congenital." A total of 18 articles were retained for analysis.


Findings/Results: Overall, the greatest risk reduction strategy for CMV transmission is education of pregnant women. In the neonate at risk for congenital CMV, early identification, antiviral treatment, and care coordination are pivotal to maximizing outcomes.


Implications for Practice: Increasing understanding of congenital CMV, modes of transmission, signs of infection, and intervention strategies as well as its impact on development are essential to maximizing outcomes.


Implications for Research: The need for research exists in the area of valganciclovir's impact on sensorineural hearing loss as well as potential vaccines to protect against CMV transmission. Research is also being conducted in the area of passive immunity via administration of CMV-specific hyperimmune globulin therapy to pregnant women diagnosed with a primary CMV infection.