Human Breast Milk-acquired Cytomegalovirus Infection: Certainties, Doubts and Perspectives

Author(s): Flaminia Bardanzellu*, Vassilios Fanos, Alessandra Reali.

Journal Name: Current Pediatric Reviews

Volume 15 , Issue 1 , 2019

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Graphical Abstract:


Breast Milk (BM) is the best source of nutrition for newborns, especially if premature. In fact, its beneficial impact on short- and the long-term neonatal outcome has was deeply described.

Unfortunately, BM could not be always so safe, especially due to the possible presence of maternal viruses that can be shed and transferred to the breastfed neonate. Among these, Cytomegalovirus (CMV) can potentially lead to a serious and acute illness, mostly in case of low gestational age.

Some studies also report the association of CMV-acquired infection to an increased risk of structural and functional brain modifications and neurological impairment.

Due to these reasons, a strategy to remove CMV from BM with a minimal or absent impact on its beneficial components would be desirable.

Up to now, pasteurization, freezing, ultraviolet- C or microwave irradiation are the available techniques; they show different levels of efficacy and variable effects on BM composition, even if many studies are still needed to fully clarify these implications.

In this review, we provide an update of the current evidence about these topics. We focus on the factors promoting CMV shedding through BM; moreover, the possible occurrence of a severe disease in preterm neonates is also described. Finally, we investigate the potential effects showed on BM properties by the strategies that prevent or reduce viral transmission, therefore influencing newborns’ health, and the new techniques which could show a relevant role in the next future, such as metabolomics.

Keywords: Breast milk, cytomegalovirus, preterm newborns, pasteurization, freezing, irradiation.

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Year: 2019
Page: [30 - 41]
Pages: 12
DOI: 10.2174/1573396315666181126105812

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