Predicting Cytomegalovirus Risk Before Birth

Researchers have developed a method of testing for cytomegalovirus infections during pregnancy, reducing the damage done to developing fetuses.

AsianScientist (Dec. 2, 2016) – A Japanese research team has discovered a new method for predicting congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infections during the prenatal period. The findings were published in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Although the recent Zika virus outbreak has caused widespread alarm, more common congenital CMV infections can also cause serious complications such as hearing difficulties and mental retardation in affected infants.

In recent years, some doctors have successfully used antiviral agents to treat infants with congenital CMV infections. To facilitate this, early diagnosis is vital; however, tests to identify the infection in infants are not widely carried out, and would incur huge financial costs if they were carried out for all infants. Currently, the most realistic and financially viable approach is targeting pregnant women who have a high risk of congenital infection, and testing their newborn infants with a PCR urine examination.

A team of Kobe University researchers—Professor Yamada Hideto, Associate Professor Tanimura Kenji, Project Professor Morioka Ichiro and Dr. Minematsu Toshio—have now developed a CMV test that is safe for both mothers and fetuses and could potentially be adopted for general use.

They surveyed 300 pregnant women who tested positive for CMV antibodies and were classified as high-risk for congenital injection. They also tested the women’s blood, urine and uterine cervical secretion for CMV DNA.

After statistical analysis of all the results, the team determined that fetal abnormalities revealed through ultrasound and positive PCR results for uterine cervical secretion were the two most effective ways to predict congenital infection before birth. This is the first report to demonstrate that uterine cervical secretion can be used to predict congenital CMV infection.

Both ultrasound and PCR tests for uterine cervical secretion are non-invasive procedures, and using them can offer a safer method to test high-risk pregnant women and predict the occurrence of congenital infection. Accurately identifying the affected infants enables doctors to start antiviral treatment early, and could improve the neurological prognosis of infants infected by CMV.

The article can be found at: Tanimura et al. (2016) Prediction of Congenital Cytomegalovirus Infection in High-risk Pregnant Women.


Source: Kobe University; Photo: Pixabay.
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