A total of 121 infants entered a cohort serological study of primary infections with herpes-viruses. All of them had seven samples of blood available: the first sample was taken soon after birth, the other six were taken at 1, 2, 3, 6, 12, and 14 months of age. One sample of maternal blood was collected immediately after delivery. All blood samples were tested for antibodies against cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, and human herpesvirus-6 (HHV-6). Primary cytomegalovirus infection occurred early; the cumulative infection rates were 1.7%, 8.3%, 18.3%, 25%, 52.5%, and 65% by the ages of 1, 2, 3, 6, 12, and 14 months, respectively. Epstein-Barr virus infection was not seen before 3 months of age and slowly emerged thereafter, reaching a cumulative rate of 1.7%, 11.6%, 21.5% at the ages of 6, 12, and 14 months, respectively. Primary HHV-6 infection was also a rare event in the first three months of life, but peaked between 6 and 12 months of age. No detectable risk factors were associated with primary Epstein-Barr virus or HHV-6 infection. The risk factors associated with cytomegalovirus infection included breast feeding, fewer children in household, and care by a babysitter.
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