Cytomegalovirus is an infection that many infants suffer from. It is therefore important to protect your baby from contracting it. And, for that you will first need to know the signs and symptoms of this infection and the course of treatment too. Today, we have compiled some basic information on this virus that afflicts several hundred babies across the world.
Among the various kinds of congenital infections from which a child suffers, cytomegalovirus needs special mention, particularly in the United States. Cytomegalovirus is a kind of herpes virus. People can suffer from the effects of cytomegalovirus at any point of time; however, majority of issues are seen during childhood.Read More: Cytomegalovirus During Pregnancy: Is It Risky?
Cytomegalovirus in New Born Babies
As mentioned above, cytomegalovirus in babies and new born infants are most common. There might be very mild symptoms or no symptoms at all in these babies. However, it has been seen that many unborn babies have quite severe symptoms from this virus.
The cause of cytomegalovirus in newborns and infants
The cytomegalovirus spreads easily from one person to another. In new borne and infants, the virus can be spread in the following ways:
- The unborn baby can get the virus from the mother during the time of pregnancy. This is known as congenital cytomegalovirus.
- The new born infant can be infected with the virus from the mother during the process of delivery or through breast milk. This is termed as peri-natal cytomegalovirus.
- The virus can be there in general households with young children.
- Day care centers might have these viruses in abundance.
- When there is direct contact with infected urine, saliva, semen or vaginal fluid.
Some common symptoms of cytomegalovirus in new born babies
The symptoms might vary depending if the new born has congenital cytomegalovirus infection or perinatal cytomegalovirus infection.
- For Congenital cytomegalovirus infection
- Small size of the baby, which includes small head size
- Loss of hearing (this can be found when hearing screening for the newborn baby is done)
- The skin has yellowish tinge
- Enlarged spleen and liver
- Eye problems
- Small broken blood vessels under the skin
- For preinatal cytomegalovirus infection
There might not be very prominent signs and symptoms in newborn babies with cytomegalovirus infection. Usually the infection is passed through breast milk or during the delivery process. However, if the new born is premature or very sick, some strong symptoms can be seen. This can be seen in babies between 3 weeks and 6 months of age. Some symptoms include:
- Abnormal results in blood tests. For instance, low white blood cell count, low platelet levels, abnormal liver function readings are some common things.
- The spleen and liver becomes enlarged
- Inflammation of the lungs (pneumotitis)
The symptoms of this infection might have similarities with other health issues. The pediatrician is the best person to guide in this matter.
Diagnosis of cytomegalovirus in newborns
Majority of the infections go unnoticed and remain undiagnosed as very few symptoms are caused by the virus. The tests which are done for the diagnosis of the problem include:
- In the fetus, fetal blood or amniotic fluid can be collected and checked for cytomegalovirus infection.
- In case of a new born within 3 weeks from birth, saliva and urine cultures might be used for detecting and diagnosing cytomegalovirus.
Some other diagnostic tests might include:
- CT scan of the brain
- Eye examinations
- Hearing examinations
- Blood tests including liver function tests and complete blood count
Treatment of cytomegalovirus in babies
The treatment of cytomegalovirus infection depends on the symptoms, general health and age of the baby. Also the severity of the condition of the baby will help in deciding the kind of treatment which is needed. Healthcare providers are generally against treatment of newborn children without symptoms. Babies with cytomegalovirus are often treated with medicines which work on the virus. However, babies with the following symptoms are generally treated with these medicines:
- Extremely low platelet counts
- Lung inflammation
- Eye problems which might lead to loss of vision
Babies who suffer from hearing loss or are born with small head size might need to take ganciclovir on long-term basis.
Some complications which might be seen in babies with cytomegalovirus infections
Some kinds of complications might be seen in babies and new born children. Some of these include:
- Problems with normal growth and development of the child
- Problems in the nervous system, which might lead to symptoms like seizures
- Problems with normal feeding in the child
Contact your healthcare provider and pediatrician for more information.