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A group of 124 children undergoing open-heart surgery was followed prospectively in order to estimate the risk of cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection due to transfused blood.
Ninety-three patients (75%) had complement fixation (CF) titers of < 1:4 against CMV on admission. Of this seronegative subgroup, nine patients (9.7%) subsequently became infected with CMV. All nine showed seroconversion, and six were viruric 12-14 weeks after surgery. Comparative seroepidemiological studies of the hospital population showed that in the age ranges studied (3-16 yr), the infections seen in the study group represented a significant excess over expectation. This infection rate was consistent with a model of transmission by blood transfusion with a risk of 2.7% per unit but not proven.
Thirty-one patients had CF antibody to CMV on admission. CMV was isolated from 14% of urines of seropositive children both before and after surgery, but only two patients showed CF antibody rises to CMV. Thus the frequency of CMV infection associated with open-heart surgery and transfusion could not be calculated in the seropositive subgroup.
CMV infection was not related to the primary diagnosis or to Down's syndrome.