Infection with human cytomegalovirus (CMV) is ubiquitous, with a global seroprevalence of approximately 85%.1 In all human history, most CMV infections have probably been acquired from breastfeeding. Hayes et al2 in 1972 demonstrated that CMV could be cultured in breast milk, and breastfeeding was proposed as a mechanism by which the virus could be transmitted to the neonate. Subsequent work showed that such postnatal infections are generally innocuous in full-term infants,3 in contrast to the potentially devastating neurodevelopmental and audiological consequences of CMV infections acquired in utero.
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Schleiss MR. Breast Milk–Acquired Cytomegalovirus in Premature Infants: Uncertain Consequences and Unsolved Biological Questions. JAMA Pediatr. 2020;174(2):121–123. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.4538
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