Scimex: Cytomegalovirus is a common herpesvirus that can cross the placenta, infect the fetus and cause damage to the developing brain. The retrospective observational study of 323 children with cerebral palsy reveals that 9.6 per cent had cytomegalovirus (CMV) DNA in blood taken from their newborn screening card. This proportion is much higher than the proportion of children with CMV detected in the newborn period in the general community, which is less than one per cent.
it is six times greater than the proportion of children with cerebral
palsy who have had congenital CMV reported as an attributable cause of
their condition to the Australian Cerebral Palsy Register (1.5 per cent), and higher than a recent retrospective study of Caucasian children with cerebral palsy (1.5 per cent).
CMV infection has been estimated to occur in approximately 0.7 per cent
of newborn infants of whom ten to 15 per cent exhibit signs of
infection at birth. These infants carry a higher risk of permanent
neurodevelopmental disabilities, including cerebral palsy.
estimated that a further ten to 15 per cent of children with congenital
CMV infection who are asymptomatic at birth will go on to develop
neurologic signs and symptoms beyond the neonatal period, predominantly
late-onset hearing loss.
is the most common physical disability of childhood, and has been
associated with a number of risk factors, including intrauterine
infections such as congenital CMV.
“Despite this known
association, and estimates of neurologic disability from congenital CMV,
few reports describe the prevalence and epidemiology of cerebral palsy
associated with congenital CMV, said the study’s senior author, Professor Cheryl Jones of the University of Sydney’s Marie Bashir Institute of Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity.
the role of congenital CMV as a risk factor for cerebral palsy is
important because it is the most common intrauterine infection in
developed countries, is potentially preventable, and antiviral therapy
post-natally can reduce the severity of adverse neurologic outcomes.”
Study leader, Dr Hayley Smithers-Sheedy
of the University of Sydney’s Cerebral Palsy Alliance said: “This study
serves as a timely reminder of the importance of CMV as a common
intrauterine viral infection in developed countries and the potential
for long-term consequences beyond the newborn period.
research is needed to investigate the mechanisms and contribution of
congenital CMV to the causal pathways to cerebral palsy.”