Spotting CMV Infections in Babies

Congenital Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection is among the most common infections in the U.S. passed from mother to child before birth. One in 200 babies will have it. It isn’t curable, but it’s very treatable when caught early.

Treatment can significantly reduce its physical and developmental effects on a child, allowing them to live very productive and healthy lives. But for treatments to be effective, caregivers and professionals need to work together to catch it early.

Here are some signs of CMV infection all parents and caregivers should look out for.

What is Congenital Cytomegalovirus (CMV)?

Congenital means the baby is born with it. Congenital CMV is a virus that can infect the placenta where a baby develops in the mother’s body. Once the placenta is infected, she can pass it on to the baby without even knowing she has CMV. Many people who get CMV in childhood or as adults have no symptoms.

One-third of children under five years old have already contracted it. And as many as half of 40 years olds have it. So this is very common and certainly nothing to be ashamed about. 

When babies have it, it can be especially damaging because it impacts how their brain develops. So don’t wait if you see these signs.

Symptoms of a CMV Infection in Babies

Some children have obvious signs of CMV infection at birth and healthcare professionals will usually identify it. But, babies can appear perfectly healthy at birth and show signs a few weeks later. Or, symptoms may develop over the first several years of life.  

Some early signs include:

  • Being born prematurely
  • Liver, lungs, spleen problems
  • Low birth weight
  • Smaller than average head size
  • Seizures

Some signs you might notice later include:

  • Hearing loss
  • Learning problems
  • Vision loss
  • Balance problems
  • Lack of coordination
  • Weakness in the muscles

Healthcare professionals will often test for this before Baby leaves the hospital. If you’re an expecting mother working with a midwife or plan to give birth outside a facility, you should request this screening within three weeks of delivery.

CMV is a leading cause of permanent hearing loss in children, second only to the kind that runs in families. So if your baby has CMV, you should get them regular hearing screenings to identify hearing challenges early. Even if your baby passed the newborn test, they might develop hearing loss later. 

When we detect hearing loss early, we can ensure your child has the support they need so it doesn’t impact their development, learning, and function as much. Please contact the office to get a baby hearing test today.