Postnatal Human Cytomegalovirus Infection in Preterm Infants Has Long-Term Neuropsychological Sequelae

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To evaluate whether an early postnatal infection poses a long-term risk for neuropsychological impairment to neonates born very prematurely.

Study design

Adolescents born very preterm (n = 42, 11.6-16.2 years, mean = 13.9; 15 girls; 19 with and 23 without an early postnatal human cytomegalovirus [CMV] infection) and typically developing, term born controls (n = 24, 11.3-16.6 years, mean = 13.6; 12 girls) were neuropsychologically assessed with the German version of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale and the Developmental Test for Visual Perception.


As expected, the full cohort of adolescents born preterm had significantly lower scores than term born controls on IQ (preterm: mean [SD] = 98.43 [14.83], control: 110.00 [8.10], P = .015) and on visuoperceptive abilities (95.64 [12.87] vs 106.24 [9.95], P = .016). Furthermore, adolescents born preterm with early postnatal CMV infection scored significantly lower than those without this infection regarding overall cognitive abilities (92.67 [14.71] vs 102.75 [13.67], P = .030), but not visuoperceptive abilities (91.22 [10.88] vs 98.96 [13.45], P > .05).


In our small but well-characterized group, our results provide evidence for adverse effects of early postnatal CMV infection on overall cognitive functions in adolescents born preterm. If confirmed, these results support the implementation of preventive measures.

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