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10/09/2023  |   11:15 AM - 12:15 PM   |  Courtroom

Autism spectrum disorder and Congenital CMV: More than just a coincidence

Abstract Summary

Background: Research has found be an increased incidence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) among children with co-occurring congenital cytomegalovirus (cCMV). It has been hypothesized that exposure to high levels of inflammation, decreased placental blood flow, as well as disrupted typical patterns of fetal brain development caused by CMV may cause a predisposition to ASD. In general children with ASD can experience social communication and sensory differences, as can children with cCMV. The overlap in features of both conditions can make diagnosis difficult. However, an understanding of the unique neurodevelopmental profiles of children with co-occurring ASD and cCMV can help guide therapies and family supports. Session summary: In this break out session, the presenters will provide an overview of the existing published literature on the association of cCMV and ASD, as well as the incidence of cCMV-parent reported co-occurrence of ASD and cCMV. They will share their personal journeys of raising children with both cCMV and ASD, and how receiving an ASD diagnosis opened doors to additional services for their children. Dr. Pesch will share her professional experience in working with children with co-occuring ASD and cCMV, as well as unique developmental considerations that can help guide therapy and support. This session is geared towards caregivers, researchers and clinicians looking to learn more about this special population.

Learning Objectives

  • 1) Summarize the current research on the associated between congenital CMV and increased risk of autism spectrum disorder
  • 2) Understand the challenges of diagnosing children with co-occuring autism and congenital CMV, and to advocate for an evaluation
  • 3) Discuss the unique developmental strengths and weaknesses in children with co-occuring congenital CMV and ASD, and strategies of support for them and their families.




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Megan Pesch | Primary Presenter, Co-Presenter

Dr. Pesch is a Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrician and researcher at the University of Michigan where she is the Director of the Congenital CMV Developmental Follow-up Clinic. She serves as the President of the National CMV Foundation. Her research interests include the early screening and diagnosis of congenital CMV, as well as the behavioral and developmental outcomes of children with congenital CMV. She is also a proud mother of a daughter with cCMV.


Financial - Receives Consulting fee for Consulting from DiaSorin Molecular.   Receives Consulting fee for Consulting from MedScape.   Receives Salary for Employment from University Of Michigan.  

Nonfinancial - Has a Personal (Serve on Board of Directors) relationship for Board membership.  


Financial - Receives support from University of Michigan (all authors employed by) Pesch - speaker honoraria for diasorin, consultant for medscape/webmd Pesch and weinberg - NIH funding Pesch - Gerber foundation funding for Pesch - speaker honoraria for diasorin, consultant for medscape/webmd Pesch and weinberg - NIH funding Pesch - Gerber foundation funding.  

Samantha Nikirk | Co-Presenter

Samantha Nikirk, MPH is a Clinical Research Program Manager at the University of Michigan in the Division of Hepatology. She also serves as Co-Chair of the Michigan Congenital CMV Community Alliance for the National CMV Foundation. Ms. Nikirk has partnered with several organizations to create patient and clinician-focused congenital CMV resources including MedScape, Hands and Voices, and WebMD. She also sits on the Michigan Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Advisory Committee and is a Newborn Screening Ambassador with Expecting Health. Most importantly, she is the proud mother to a toddler with congenital CMV.


Financial - Receives Consulting fee for Consulting from MedScape/WebMD.  

Nonfinancial - No relevant nonfinancial relationship exists.


Financial - Receives support from MedScape/WebMD for cCMV Educational Materials.