Seroprevalence of antibodies to cytomegalovirus in pregnant women in the Apulia region (Italy)


Apulia region


INTRODUCTION: Cytomegalovirus is ubiquitous and easily transmitted by contact. Following the first infection, the virus becomes latent and periodic reactivation could occur due to immunosuppression. If the infection is acquired in pregnancy, especially in the first trimester, the foetal consequences could be serious. The present study was conducted to assess the serological profile of pregnant women with respect to cytomegalovirus in Apulia from 2016 to 2019.

METHODS: Serum samples were tested by commercial ELISA kit for the detection of specific IgM and IgG antibodies against cytomegalovirus.

RESULTS: The data showed that most of the pregnant women (70.8%), especially those of  ≥40 years of age (80.6%), has antibodies against cytomegalovirus, though these do not confer fully protective immunity against infection by different strains nor can prevent the re-activation of the latent one. Conversely, most of the youngest women are seronegative (44.4% in women < 25 years of age) and vulnerable during pregnancy. 

CONCLUSIONS: Currently, cytomegalovirus screening for pregnant women is not mandatory in Italy. Considering that congenital cytomegalovirus  is the leading non-genetic cause of sensorineural hearing loss, it would be extremely useful and cost-saving to screen women of childbearing age and women at early stage of pregnancy for cytomegalovirus infection in addition to increase awareness of cytomegalovirus infection and consequences among pregnant women, health care workers and the public.