Pregnant Women


CMV in pregnancy - all you need to know

CMV, or cytomegalovirus (si-to-MEG-alo-vi-rus) is a common virus that is harmless to most people but can be very dangerous to unborn babies. Symptoms can be mistaken for a cold and healthy adults will often not even realise they’ve contracted it. CMV infection before birth is known as congenital CMV.

Congenital CMV infection occurs when a mother is infected with CMV and it passes through to her unborn baby. About one third of women who become infected with CMV for the first time during pregnancy pass the virus to their unborn babies. About 1 of every 5 children born with the virus will develop permanent problems due to the infection – nearly 1000 babies every year. These problems include hearing loss, physical and motor impairment, seizures, autism, learning difficulties and visual impairment. 

Congenital CMV is more common than Down’s syndrome and causes more birth defects than Toxoplasmosis, Spina Bifida or Rubella. 
Yet a survey of over 1,000 British women aged 18-44 commissioned by CMV Action* and carried out by ComRes, showed that only one third (33%) of women have heard of it. Nine out of ten (91%) women think that pregnant women should be given advice about CMV infection during pregnancy.  

For more informatio download our CMV: Pregnancy & Prevention leaflet or read our section on What is CMV?  

How can I reduce my chances of getting CMV?

CMV is spread through bodily fluids and the chance of getting a CMV infection from casual contact is very small. However, a lot of small children catch CMV so women who work with children, or who have a family already, need to be especially careful during pregnancy.

You can reduce the risk of getting CMV by following a few basic hygiene precautions.   


  • Avoid sharing dummies, cutlery, drinks or food with anyone.
  • Avoid kissing young children under the age of 6 on the mouth or cheek. Instead, kiss them on the head or give them a big hug.


  • Wash your hands with soap and water after coming into contact with any bodily fluids. Wash well for 15 to 20 seconds.
  • Wash any items that have been contaminated by bodily fluids with soap and water.


Research into a vaccine is under way but in the meantime it is important to focus on preventing CMV by taking these precautions. Good hygiene by all pregnant women is still the best way to protect unborn babies against CMV infection.

Concerned about CMV in pregnancy?


Treatment in pregnancy

Some small scale studies have investigated a treatment called Hyperimmune globulin (HIG). This aims to reduce the risk of transmission from mother to baby and to reduce the severity of symptoms in babies that have been infected.

However, the amount of evidence available is limited and the effectiveness and risks of this treatment have not been confirmed. A larger scale study is currently underway.

HIG is therefore not offered in the UK or other countries as routine practice. Some private practitioners in other European countries offer this unproven treatment.

Please speak to your Midwife or GP if you have any concerns.

At CMV Action we can provide our members with a very personal support service:

  • A named individual at the end of the phone or email
  • They can also put you in touch with other families in similar circumstances
  • Our team of volunteer support advisers all have experience of congenital CMV. They are here to talk to you about your experiences, point you in the direction of further information or put you in contact with other parents facing similar issues

Contact a support advisor by:

T: 0808 802 0030


Become a member


* ComRes interviewed 1,008 British women aged 18-44 online between 28th- 30th March 2014. 33% of women say that they have at least heard of CMV infection in a women whille pregnant; 91% agree with the statement “Pregnant women should be given advice about preventing CMV infection during pregnancy”. Data were weighted to be representative of all women aged 18-44 in GB by age andre gion. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules .Full data tables are available on the ComRes website – 


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