Vaccine 'could prevent risk of congenital CMV'

An experimental vaccine being developed in the US could reduce babies' risks of being infected with cytomegalovirus (CMV) in the womb.

Initial tests show that women who received the trial vaccine were 50 per cent less likely to become infected with CMV, which can be passed onto unborn babies and lead to severe hearing, mental and movement impairments.

The findings of the tests, which were conducted by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, are outlined in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Lead researcher Dr Robert Pass comments: "This trial demonstrates that a statistically significant degree of protection against maternal CMV can be achieved through vaccination.

"This is an important step along the path towards the ultimate goal - a vaccine that can protect infants from congenital CMV infection."

He adds that while the findings were "encouraging", a larger trial is needed.

According to figures from the UK's NHS, CMV affects one in every 200 babies.