CMV status – What is it and how can it affect me and my baby?
In your search for a sperm donor you have probably come across the term CMV status (CMV Positive or CMV Negative). But what does CMV status mean and is it something that should concern you?
In this blog post we will help you understand what it is, when you should use a sperm donor with a positive CMV status or a donor with a negative CMV status, and how the status may affect you or your baby. Hopefully, the post will give you the information you need to make the process of finding a sperm donor as stress free as possible.
What is CMV status?
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is related to the herpes virus and is a common virus that can affect anyone. You can get infected through body fluids such as saliva, blood, urine, sperm and breast milk. Most people have a positive CMV status before turning 50 and most people will get infected with CMV during their 20’s.
If you get infected, the virus will retain in your body for life. Most people are not aware that they are infected because the immune system usually controls the virus and therefore, you do not have any symptoms or complications. This means that the virus lies dormant in the body, with little risk of reoccurring or reactivate infection. This is known as a recurrent CMV infection.
There is no vaccine for CMV, but as mentioned, the chances are very small for this virus to become active. Normally, there are no symptoms, especially not for children. A few can have symptoms such as sore throat, fever and headache.
CMV status – screening of sperm donors
At Cryos, we screen all our sperm donors for a wide variety of viruses and genetic disorders. We also screen our donors for their CMV status to accommodate use in certain countries. Specific antibodies can be detected when CMV is in the body. We accept donors who have tested IgM negative. This means that the donor does not have an active CMV infection and the donor will have a negative CMV status in the Donor Search.
Sperm donors who are tested IgG Positive, which means they have previously had the infection, may only be used for women who themselves are IgG Positive. This means that if you have previously been infected with CMV, you can use a sperm donor with a positive CMV status.
It is not all countries that require a CMV screening, so the donors who have no CMV status on shown on their donor profile in the Donor Search have not and will not be screened for CMV.
What are the chances of transmitting the infection to my baby?
It depends on when you became infected the first time.
Approximately 50% of all women already have antibodies to CMV before they get pregnant because they have already been infected. As previously mentioned, this is called a recurrent CMV infection and the risk of passing the virus to your baby during a recurrent infection is very low (about 1 %). So, if you got your first CMV infection before your pregnancy, the risk of passing on the virus to your baby is very small.
However, if you are infected with CMV for the very first time during pregnancy, the chance of passing on the virus to your baby is higher.
Will my baby be affected by a positive CMV status?
An infection with CMV is mostly harmless. Most babies with a CMV infection never show signs or have any health problems. A very small percentage of babies infected with CMV may have health problems that are apparent at birth or develop later during infancy or childhood.
If you want to know more about the subject, we recommend that you speak with your doctor or clinic for advice and consider having yourself screened to see if you are a carrier of the CMV virus.