Neonatology pp 869-879 | Cite as

Fetal Infections: Cytomegalovirus, Herpes Simplex, and Varicella

  • Stuart P. Adler
  • Giovanni Nigro


This chapter reviews three herpes viruses that cause infections of the fetus and/or newborn. These are herpes virus V, also called cytomegalovirus (CMV), herpes virus I and II, also called herpes simplex virus 1 and 2 (HSV), and herpes virus III, also called varicella-zoster virus (VZV). With the possible exception of HSV, CMV and VZV may produce severe fetal disease following a primary maternal infection during pregnancy when, in the absence of maternal immunity, these organisms are carried in the bloodstream to the placenta and then on to the fetus. With CMV and VZV, primary maternal infection during pregnancy does not always result in intrauterine infection of the fetus; and when intrauterine infection does occur, severe fetal disease does not always follow. Most commonly, infants infected in utero with CMV appear normal at birth. Chronic persistent infection with each of these herpes viruses causes progressive disease with significant developmental abnormalities which become apparent over the first several years of life. In general, infection of the mother with these viruses and the development of immunity prior to conception protects the fetus either from infection or from the severe disease both in utero and after birth for few months. With CMV, for example, women immune to the virus prior to pregnancy may deliver infants with intrauterine acquired infection but, with rare exceptions, congenital cytomegalic inclusion disease occurs only as the result of a primary infection during pregnancy.


Herpes Simplex Virus Varicella Zoster Virus Genital Herpes Herpes Simplex Virus Infection Intrauterine Infection 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stuart P. Adler
  • Giovanni Nigro
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PediatricsUniversity of L’AquilaL’AquilaItaly

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