Breast Milk-Acquired Cytomegalovirus Infection and Disease in VLBW and Premature Infants
Background: Very low birth weight (VLBW) and premature infants are at risk for developing postnatal cytomegalovirus (CMV) disease, including CMV-related sepsis-like syndrome (CMV-SLS) for which estimates [corrected] in the United States are lacking. Methods: We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to estimate the pooled proportions (and 95% confidence intervals) of VLBW and premature infants born to CMV-seropositive women with breast milk-acquired CMV infection and CMV-SLS. We combined these proportions with population-based rates of CMV seropositivity, breast milk feeding, VLBW, and prematurity to estimate annual rates of breast milk-acquired CMV infection and CMV-SLS in the United States. Results: In our meta-analysis, among 299 infants fed untreated breast milk, we estimated 19% (11%-32%) acquired CMV infection and 4% (2%-7%) developed CMV-SLS. Assuming these proportions, we estimated a rate of breast milk-acquired CMV infection among VLBW and premature infants in the United States of 6.5% (3.7%-10.9%) and 1.4% (0.7%-2.4%) of CMV-SLS, corresponding to 600 infants with CMV-SLS in 2008. Among 212 infants fed frozen breast milk, our meta-analysis proportions were 13% (7%-24%) for infection and 5% (2%-12%) for CMV-SLS, yielding slightly lower rates of breast milk-acquired CMV infection (4.4%; 2.4%-8.2%) but similar rates of CMV-SLS (1.7%; 0.7%-4.1%). Conclusions: Breast milk-acquired CMV infection presenting with CMV-SLS is relatively rare. Prospective studies to better define the burden of disease are needed to refine guidelines for feeding breast milk from CMV-seropositive mothers to VLBW and premature infants.