Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed doi:10.1136/archdischild-2012-303384
  • Original article

Long-term cognitive and neurological outcome of preterm infants with postnatally acquired CMV infection through breast milk

  1. Christian F Poets1
  1. 1Department of Neonatology, University Children's Hospital, Tuebingen, Germany
  2. 2Institute of Medical Biometry, University Hospital, Tuebingen, Germany
  3. 3Department of Neuropediatrics, University Children's Hospital, Tuebingen, Germany
  4. 4Institute of Medical Virology and Epidemiology of Viral Diseases, University Hospital, Tuebingen, Germany
  1. Correspondence to Dr Rangmar Goelz, Department of Neonatology, University Children's Hospital, Calwerstrβe 7, Tuebingen 72076, Germany; Rangmar.Goelz{at}
  • Received 12 November 2012
  • Revised 18 March 2013
  • Accepted 29 March 2013
  • Published Online First 19 April 2013


Introduction Long-term follow-up data on preterm infants with breast milk–acquired postnatal cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection are sparse.

Aim To systematically evaluate the long-term cognitive outcome and prevalence of cerebral palsy (CP) in patients after postnatal CMV infection.

Patients and methods All surviving infants <1500 g born in our centre between 1 June 1995 and 1 June 2000, and with postnatal CMV infection acquired at up to 3 months of corrected age, were eligible for our study; this included neurological and neurocognitive assessment, using the Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children (K-ABC) at the age of >4 years. A blinded and controlled matched-pairs design was used with gestational age, gender and date of birth as matching criteria.

Results Of 50 eligible children, 42 (84%) could be tested. There was no difference in the prevalence of cerebral palsy. Following CMV infection during their hospital stay, infants had significantly lower results in the simultaneous processing scale of the K-ABC (p=0.029) after correction for additional risk factors like socioeconomic status (SES). Results for the sequential and achievement scales were only slightly reduced (p>0.05).

Conclusions It seems possible that breast milk-acquired CMV infection has a detrimental influence on cognitive development of preterm infants.

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