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Diagnosis of Chronic Perinatal Infections

Charles A. Alford Jr., MD; Sergio Stagno, MD; David W. Reynolds, MD
Am J Dis Child. 1975;129(4):455-463. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1975.02120410043014.
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Clinical diagnosis of perinatal infections in newborns has long been a vexing problem. The causative maternal infections are often asymptomatic (cytomegalovirus [CMV] and Toxoplasma infections), or are so mild as to escape notice (rubella, syphilis, herpesvirus, and enterovirus infections).1 These, in turn, can result in a wide spectrum of disease in the affected infants. Certainly, some neonates have severe disorders with multiple organ system damage and a fulminant course; however, even in this group, where clinical clues are obvious, similarities among symptoms make specific diagnosis difficult.2 To compound the problem further, it has been recognized in recent years that most infections acquired in utero are asymptomatic or too subtle to be recognized in early life.3-10 In spite of their apparent innocuous nature in infancy, many of them result in serious and irreparable damage not noticeable until long after birth.5,6,11-17 This is especially true with respect to


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