Cytomegalovirus is part of the herpes virus group, and as such it shares a characteristic ability to remain dormant within the body over a long period. It is the most common cause of intrauterine infection, with about 1 per cent of all newborns infected in utero, and is the most common cause of congenital deafness and mental retardation/58» Of those infected, about 10 per cent will have the syndrome at birth. Up to 30 per cent will die and 90 per cent of the survivors will develop long-term sequelae such as microcephaly (70 per cent), mental retardation (60 per cent), neuromuscular disorders (35 per cent), hearing loss (30 per cent), and chorioretinitis or optic atrophy (22 per cent). The presence of chorioretinitis usually indicates significant mental retardation. Of the 90 per cent of those who are asymptomatic of clinical disease at birth, 5 to 17 per cent will develop long-term sequelae. Between 30 and 40 per cent of congenital cytomegalovirus disease occurs due to newly acquired infection during pregnancy. If maternal infection occurs 6 months prior to conception then the risk of congenital disease developing due to maternal recurrence is 0.2 to 1 per cent and of these 10 per cent will have long-term sequelae.
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