Journal Article

Parvovirus B19 Infection in Fetal Deaths

Anita Riipinen, Elina Väisänen, Mika Nuutila, Markku Sallmen, Riitta Karikoski, Marja-Liisa Lindbohm, Klaus Hedman, Helena Taskinen and Maria Söderlund-Venermo

in Clinical Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 47, issue 12, pages 1519-1525
Published in print December 2008 | ISSN: 1058-4838
Published online December 2008 | e-ISSN: 1537-6591 | DOI:
Parvovirus B19 Infection in Fetal Deaths

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  • Infectious Diseases
  • Immunology
  • Public Health and Epidemiology
  • Microbiology


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Background. Parvovirus B19 infection during pregnancy can lead to nonimmune fetal hydrops, miscarriage, and intrauterine fetal death (IUFD). Some studies have suggested that parvovirus B19 infection may surprisingly often result in nonhydropic fetal death during the third trimester, in the absence of maternal serological evidence of acute infection. This study was conducted to investigate the prevalence of parvovirus B19 DNA among fetuses from miscarriages and IUFDs.

Methods. We retrospectively studied 535 unborn fetuses, including 120 fetuses from miscarriages and 169 from IUFDs. The control fetuses were 246 fetuses from induced abortions. All fetuses were autopsied from July 1992 through December 1995 and from January 2003 through December 2005 in Helsinki, Finland. The period included a major epidemic of parvovirus B19 infection in 1993. Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded fetal tissues were studied with use of a highly sensitive and specific PCR that was capable of detecting all 3 parvovirus B19 genotypes and by histologic examination. In addition, maternal parvovirus B19 serological status was determined.

Results. Parvovirus B19 DNA was detected in 5 fetuses with gestational ages of 14, 22, 23, 30, and 39 weeks; these included fetuses from 4 (2.4%) of the 169 IUFDs and 1 (0.8%) of the 120 miscarriages. During the epidemic year 1993, the prevalence of parvovirus B19 DNA–positive fetal deaths was 6 times the prevalence during nonepidemic years. All 5 mothers of the parvovirus B19 DNA–positive fetuses had serological signs of acute parvovirus B19 infection close to the time of fetal death. The only nonhydropic fetus was full-term.

Conclusions. Our findings indicate that the prevalence of parvovirus B19 infection among fetuses from IUFDs is low. In particular, our findings did not verify the claimed high prevalence of third-trimester nonhydropic IUFDs associated with parvovirus B19.

Journal Article.  4203 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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