Objective: To predict whether universal newborn auditory screening will identify most infants with sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) caused by congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection.
Study design: A cohort of 388 children born between 1980 and 1996 at one hospital and identified during the newborn period as having congenital CMV infection received repeated hearing evaluations to assess whether hearing loss had occurred.
Results: SNHL was detected in 5.2% of all infants at birth. Late-onset SNHL occurred among the children throughout the first 6 years of life. By the age of 72 months, the cumulative incidence of SNHL was 15.4% in the cohort. Children with clinically apparent disease at birth had significantly more SNHL than children without any apparent disease (22.8% vs 4.0% at 3 months and 36.4% vs 11.3% at 72 months of age).
Conclusions: Universal screening of hearing in neonates will detect less than half of all SNHL caused by congenital CMV infection. Because most infants with congenital CMV infection are without symptoms at birth, these children are unlikely to be recognized as being at risk for SNHL and will not receive further hearing evaluations to detect late-onset hearing loss. A combined approach of universal screening of neonates for hearing, as well as for detection of congenital CMV infection, needs to be considered.