Pre‐conception care: an important yet underutilised preventive care strategy

Deborah J Bateson and Kirsten I Black
Med J Aust 2019; 210 (9): . || doi: 10.5694/mja2.50155
Published online: 20 May 2019

In reply: We write in response to the letter by Shand and colleagues highlighting the importance of cytomegalovirus (CMV) as a significant congenital infection that deserves attention in the pre‐conception period. We recognise that the only preventive strategy currently available is to raise awareness about hygienic measures during pregnancy. These measures include avoidance of contact with bodily fluids of young children, including with their saliva and urine, due to high levels of CMV excretion in infected infants and pre‐school aged children. Avoiding kissing on the cheeks or mouth, sharing of food, drinks, utensils, towels and washcloths and handwashing after possible exposure is recommended. Several studies, including two cluster randomised trials,1,2 have demonstrated that such behavioural measures in pregnant women reduce CMV seroconversion. More recent evidence from an interventional and observational controlled trial, in which women in the intervention arm received an information session in the first trimester of pregnancy about the virus and were advised to adopt a range of preventive measures to limit contact with bodily fluids,3 found that seroconversion occurred in four of 331 pregnant women (1.2%) in the intervention group, compared with 24 of 315 (7.6%) in the comparison group (absolute risk reduction, Δ = 6.4%; 95% CI, 3.2–9.6; < 0.001).3

  • Deborah J Bateson1,2
  • Kirsten I Black2,3

  • 1 Family Planning New South Wales, Sydney, NSW
  • 2 University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW
  • 3 Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, NSW


Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


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