Prevalence of viral DNA in amniotic fluid of low-risk pregnancies in the second trimester

A. A. Baschat, J. Towbin, N. E. Bowles, C. R. Harman, C. P. Weiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Aim: The association between fetal viral infection and adverse pregnancy outcome is well documented. However, the prevalence of common viral pathogens in the amniotic fluid of normal pregnancies is not established. The purpose of this study was to determine this prevalence in asymptomatic patients. Methods: This was a prospective observational study of patients at low risk for viral infection who were referred for second-trimester genetic amniocentesis. In patients with normal fetal anatomy on ultrasound and a normal fetal karyotype, a 2-ml aliquot of amniotic fluid obtained at amniocentesis was analyzed by multiplex polymerase chain reaction for cytomegalovirus (CMV), parvovirus B19, adenovirus, enterovirus, herpes simplex virus (HSV), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Results: Among 686 patients, advanced maternal age was the most common indication for genetic testing (n = 469, 68.4%), followed by elevated aneuploidy risk on triple screen (n = 164, 23.9%), elevated maternal serum α-fetoprotein (n = 20, 2.9%), previous aneuploidy (n = 16, 2.3%) and family history of inheritable disease (n = 14, 2.1%). Forty-four (6.4%) amniotic fluid samples were positive for viral genome. A single genome was amplified in 41 samples (93%). In three samples, two viral genomes were identified. Adenovirus was most frequently identified (37/44), followed by CMV (5/44), EBV (2/44), enterovirus (2/44) and RSV (1/44). Parvovirus and HSV were not identified. There was a bimodal seasonal variation in prevalence, with the highest prevalence during the summer and late winter. Conclusion: Viral genome is commonly found in amniotic fluid with a sonographically normal fetus, and the prevalence follows a seasonal pattern. The mechanism, significance and effects of this asymptomatic viral presence require further study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-384
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Normal pregnancy
  • Polymerase chain reaction
  • Second trimester
  • Viral infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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