(HealthDay News) — For babies born at very low birth weights, breast milk is more likely than a blood transfusion to lead to cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection, according to a study published online September 22 in JAMA Pediatrics.
Cassandra Josephson, MD, from the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, and colleagues evaluated more than 500 very-low-birth-weight infants – all of whom weighed ≤3.3 pounds and many who were born to mothers with a history of CMV infection, to see whether breast milk or transfusions carried the bigger risk.
The researchers found that, of the 29 babies who got CMV infections, five developed serious illness and three died. By testing blood, urine, and breast milk, the researchers learned that one of the 29 babies developed the infection through the placenta. In another infected baby, the source of infection could not be determined. Infections in the other 27 babies were linked to CMV-positive breast milk. Just over 300 of the babies in the study needed one or more blood transfusions. A total of more than 2,000 transfusions were given.
Among all of the mothers in the study, about three-quarters were CMV-positive. Mothers who know in advance that they may deliver a low-birth-weight baby can talk to their doctor about preventive measures, Josephson told HealthDay. “If they know they are going to deliver early, I would suggest finding out if they are CMV-positive,” she said.