To determine the characteristics and outcomes of postnatal cytomegalovirus (pCMV) infection in preterm infants in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
A retrospective, matched case-control study in a tertiary NICU. Infants born between January 2009 and December 2019, <32 weeks’ gestational age (GA) and/or birth weight (BW) <1500 g with pCMV infection were matched 1:1 with cytomegalovirus-(CMV)-negative infants by year of admission, gender, GA and BW. Primary outcome was death ≤36 weeks’ postmenstrual age or bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD). Secondary outcomes were length of ventilation (LOV), length of stay (LOS) and neurodevelopmental impairment (NDI) at corrected age 1 and 2 years.
Forty-eight pCMV-positive infants (median GA 25.3 weeks, BW 695 g, age 58 days) were identified from 1659 infants (incidence 2.9%). The most common symptoms of pCMV infection were abdominal distension (43.8%), sepsis-like syndrome (29.2%), thrombocytopenia (60.5%) and conjugated hyperbilirubinemia (60.9%). Compared with controls, there were no significant differences in the composite outcome of death or BPD (56.3% vs. 37.5%; P = 0.1) or NDI at 1 and 2 years (51.9% vs. 44%; P = 0.8; 71.4% vs. 50%; P = 0.4). pCMV-positive infants had a significantly longer median LOV (23.5 vs. 12 days)* and LOS (140 vs. 110.5 days)*. Eleven (22.9%) infants received antivirals. Ten improved and 1 died. Two untreated infants died (1 from pCMV infection).
Clinically identifiable pCMV infections are significant and associated with increased respiratory support and prolonged hospital stay in vulnerable infants. pCMV screening and preventive measures against transmission merit consideration.
*P < 0.05.