Visit our foundation to give a gift.
View Locations Near Me
Main Campus – Hartford
Connecticut Children’s – Waterbury
Urgent Care – Farmington
Specialty Care Center – Danbury
Connecticut Children’s Surgery Center at Farmington
Specialty Care Center – Fairfield
Search All Locations
Find a doctor
Find A Doctor
Request an Appointment
Amenities and Services
Who’s Who on Care Team
Getting Ready for Surgery
What to Expect—Picture Stories
Pay a Bill
Understanding the Different Fees
Pricing Transparency and Estimates
Raytheon Technologies Family Resource Center
Family Advisory Council
Legal Advocacy: Benefits, Education, Housing
Electronic Health Records
Share Your Story
Pay a Bill
Login to MyChart
Clinical Support Services Referrals
About the Network
Join the Network
Graduate Medical Education
Continuing Medical Education
MOC/Practice Quality Improvement
Educating Practices in the Community (EPIC)
Learning & Performance
Meet our Physician Relations Team
Request Medical Records
Join our Referring Provider Advisory Board
View our Physician Callback Standards
Read & Subscribe to Medical News
Register for Email Updates
Update Your Practice Information
Refer a Patient
Find and Print Health Info
Health Information For Parents
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is closely related to the viruses that cause chickenpox and mononucleosis (mono). CMV infections are very common, and most of us will probably have one in our lifetimes.
Most people infected with CMV have no symptoms or mild symptoms. In healthy kids, a CMV infection is rarely serious. Any symptoms it does cause usually are mild and temporary. But cytomegalovirus (site-uh-meg-uh-low-VY-rus) can cause problems for an unborn child whose mother has the virus and for people with weakened immune systems.
The symptoms of a
CMV infection vary. Most babies infected before birth usually show no symptoms after delivery. Those who do may have:
These babies are also at risk for hearing, vision, neurological, and developmental problems.
Even babies without clear symptoms are at risk for congenital hearing loss. CMV is the most common cause of non-genetic hearing loss at birth.
CMV infections that happen in kids after the newborn period usually don’t cause serious illness. But some kids may develop pneumonia, hepatitis (inflammation of the liver), or a rash.
Older kids and teens who are infected may have mono-like symptoms, including tiredness, muscle aches, headache, fever, and an enlarged liver and spleen. These symptoms tend to be mild and usually last only 2 to 3 weeks.
CMV can cause serious infections in people who have had organ transplants or those with weakened immune systems. In someone with AIDS or HIV, CMV infection may involve the lungs, nervous system, gastrointestinal tract, and the eyes, sometimes causing blindness.
CMV does not always cause symptoms. If it does, how long they last can vary. This depends on how the infection happens and the age and general health of the person who has it.
For example, a serious CMV infection before birth may cause lifelong developmental problems. But CMV infection in teens may last only 2 to 3 weeks and cause no lasting problems.
Once a person has the infection, the virus stays in the body, lying dormant (not active). It can become “reactivated” (come back) weeks or years later. In people with very weakened immune systems (such as those with AIDS, or people getting chemotherapy), the reactivated virus may cause serious illness. Most people, though, will not get symptoms of CMV again.
Yes. CMV can spread in a number of different ways. Anyone who has had a CMV infection, even without any symptoms, can spread the virus to others. But this mostly happens through close contact because the virus spreads through saliva (spit), breast milk, vaginal fluids, semen, urine (pee), and stool (poop).
In the United States, about 1% of infants are infected with CMV before birth. This happens because the mother had a first-time CMV infection or a reactivated infection during her pregnancy. An infected mother can pass the virus to her child before, during, or after birth.
The CMV virus also can spread in childcare centers or preschool settings, passing among kids on contaminated toys or by direct contact.
CMV also can be found in blood products and donated organs, causing infection after a blood transfusion or organ transplant. But preventive therapies are done for organ-transplant patients, and blood banks have procedures to help to prevent CMV from passing in blood products.
Doctors diagnose a CMV infection by testing fluid or a tissue sample from a person’s throat, pee, blood, or other body tissues or fluid. Blood tests also can look for antibodies that are part of the immune system’s response to a CMV infection. Sometimes other tests are used.
There’s no specific treatment recommended for otherwise healthy kids with CMV infection.
But CMV infection can be serious and even life-threatening for:
These people may be treated with
(IV) antiviral medicine, usually in a hospital. Oral antiviral medicine also might be used at home after the infection is under control and no longer poses a serious risk. These antiviral medicines can have serious side effects, so doctors use them with caution, especially in children.
In bone marrow transplant patients, the antiviral drug ganciclovir given in an IV can be helpful in fighting CMV infections. In rare cases, CMV-immune globulin might be given before someone receives an organ transplant.
Currently, there’s no vaccine to prevent CMV infection. Washing hands well and often can help reduce the risk of infection. This is especially important for:
It’s also a good idea to not share eating utensils with young kids and to avoid close contact with anyone who has the infection.
A mother who has a CMV infection shouldn’t stop breastfeeding her baby. The benefits of breastfeeding are believed to outweigh the risks of passing CMV to the baby, who is unlikely to develop any symptoms if infected.
Mononucleosis – or “mono” – is an infection that causes flu-like symptoms. It usually goes away on its own in a few weeks with the help of plenty of fluids and rest.
Coxsackievirus infections can spread from person to person. In most cases, the viruses cause mild flu-like symptoms, but can lead to more serious infections.
The immune system, composed of special cells, proteins, tissues, and organs that protect against germs and microorganisms, is the body’s defense against disease.
Parents can help prevent HIV/AIDS by learning the facts and talking with their kids regularly about healthy behaviors, feelings, and sexuality.
During your pregnancy, you’ll probably get advice from everyone. But staying healthy depends on you – read about the many ways to keep you and your baby as healthy as possible.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2020 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved.
Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.