Since African-Americans have twice the prevalence of cytomegalovirus (CMV) infections as age-matched Caucasians we sought to determine the ages and possible sources of infection of African-American children.
Subjects were 157 African-American healthy children and adolescents and their 113 household adults in Richmond VA. Families completed a questionnaire, provided saliva for antibody testing, and adolescents were interviewed regarding sexual activity.
Regardless of age CMV seropositivity was not associated with gender, breast feeding, health insurance, sexual activity, or household income, education, or size. In the final regression model, prior CMV infection in adults was over two-fold higher than in children (chi-square = 18.8, p < 0.0001). At one year of age the CMV seropositivity rate was 11% (95%CI = 4% – 24%) and increased 1.8% each year until age 13 years. Between ages 13 and 20 years the CMV seropositivity rate remained between 22% and 33%. For adults, the CMV seropositivity rate was 84% in 21 year olds (95%CI = 69%–.92%). There was no association between CMV infections of the children and their mothers but CMV infections among siblings were associated.
We observed that African-American children had CMV seroprevalence rates by age 20 years at less than one-half of that of their adult mothers and caregivers. Sibling-to-sibling transmission was a likely source of CMV infections for the children. The next generation of African-American women may be highly susceptible to a primary CMV infection during pregnancy and may benefit from a CMV vaccine.