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Thread: Does anyone know about CMV and breastmilk???

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012

    Default Does anyone know about CMV and breastmilk???

    Hi Everyone,
    I am concerned and hoping you might have some advice. I was recently in very close contact with an individual w/special needs I later learned has CMV. I was changing the individual's diapers, and in frequent contact with saliva and fluids from the individual for several days, and then learned after the fact that they had this virus, which is one of the leading causes of birth defects when a mother gets the infection while pregnant. The reasearch I've done says the virus is shed in breastmilk also but is usually only dangerous to premature and underweight newborns, the immunocompromised and those pregnant or planning a pregnancy if they don't yet have the virus and don't have antibodies.

    I made an appointment to get tested to see if I have the virus and if so, whether it's old or active. If it's active I'm worried about the repecussions on my baby that I'm breastfeeding who is 6 months old. She was born at 36 weeks. All I can find is research on newborns and pregnancies (can be devastating).

    Does anyone know anything about whether I should stop breastfeeding before I find out if I have the active virus, or even after?

    Thanks so much.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2011

    Default Re: Does anyone know about CMV and breastmilk???

    I would contact MotherRisk. Their coordinates are in the link below. It's a group of specialists at the Hospital for Sick Kids whose practise touches on every aspect of the mother-child health relationship.


    Good luck Mama!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Does anyone know about CMV and breastmilk???

    I gather CMV is a very common and usually asymptomatic virus.

    From Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple (Mohrbacher, 2010) pages 356-357

    “Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is one of the five known herpes viruses that infect humans. By age 50, nearly all adults are CMV-infected, but few develop symptoms, such as fatigue, fever, swollen lymph glands, pneumonia, or liver or spleen defects.

    If the mother is CMV- positive during pregnancy, the baby is exposed to both the virus and its antibodies in utero. The CMV virus and its antibodies are also shed into the milk of CMV-positive mothers (Schleiss, 2006). In full term healthy babies, mother’s milk acts like a vaccine, with more than two-thirds of the full term babies of CMV-positive mothers testing positive themselves for CMV, but developing no symptoms.

    However, although the risk is low, (Schanler, 2005), some very preterm babies born CMV-negative at less than 1500 g (3lbs, 5 oz.) have developed serious illness attributed to the virus through their CMV-positive mothers’ milk (Buxmann et al., 2009; Miron et al., 2005; Neuberger et al., 2006). If a baby is born CMV-negative, this means he did not receive antibodies to the virus in utero. And being very preterm means that a baby’s immune system is immature, making him more vulnerable to infections of all kinds (Bryant, Morley, Garland, & Curtis, 2002).

    When a tiny pre-term baby is CMV-negative and his mother is CMV-positive or her CMV status is unknown, there is no consensus about the best course of action (Wright et al., 2008), partly because the actual risk of serious illness is low (Miron et al., 2005)."

    It goes on about various suggestions for killing the virus in mothers expressed milk but that is only even potentially recommended for at risk babies, which I gather your baby is not, as 36 weeks is not ‘very’ preterm and I assume your baby was more than 3.5 lbs at birth and is not immune-compromised.

    I suggest you discuss your concerns with an IBCLC or a breastfeeding supportive and knowledgeable pediatrician.
    Last edited by @llli*lllmeg; September 8th, 2012 at 07:19 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012

    Default Re: Does anyone know about CMV and breastmilk???

    Thank you!

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