Long-term outcome in preterm children with human cytomegalovirus infection transmitted via breast milk

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Aim:To investigate neurodevelopmental outcome and hearing in preterm children with breast milk transmitted human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection.Methods:Forty-one preterm children (born before 32 weeks of gestation or birth weight <1500 g; 20 HCMV positive, 21 HCMV negative) from an original cohort of 44 children were examined at school age. Assessments included neurological examination, assessment of motor [Movement Assessment Battery for Children (M-ABC)] and cognitive function [Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children (K-ABC)], audiological tests and anthropometric measures.Results:In both groups, irrespective of the presence or absence of a history of HCMV infection, performance in assessments of cognitive and motor function was within the normal range. However, significant differences between the HCMV-positive and the HCMV-negative group were found in both motor and cognitive function, with poorer performance in the HCMV-positive group. There were no significant differences in anthropometric parameters, and all 20 HCMV-positive children had normal hearing function.Conclusions:In this study, cognitive and motor function in preterm children with early postnatally acquired HCMV infection transmitted via breast milk was within the normal range. However, the findings suggest that their outcome is poorer than outcome in preterm children without HCMV infection. These findings need to be replicated in larger scale studies.

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