Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a viral infection that is common. Most people have been infected with CMV by adulthood. If the CMV infection occurs for the first time during pregnancy, especially early in pregnancy, the developing fetus may have birth defects including being deaf or hard of hearing. CMV is the most common virus passed to an unborn baby, detectable in an estimated -.70% of live births worldwide. Eighty percent of babies with congenital CMV infection will never develop symptoms or disabilities. When congenital CMV does cause a problem, the most common effect is hearing loss. Although not easily spread from person to person, infection can occur following contact with the virus through various secretions including saliva. Good hygiene, such as hand washing, can help prevent CMV infection in pregnant women.
CMV infections account for approximately 15 to 21 percent of newborns with congenital deafness in the United States. A baby with a congenital CMV infection may develop hearing loss later in childhood and needs monitoring for hearing loss.