Congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection is a major cause of sensorineural hearing loss and mental retardation, whose annual healthcare costs in the USA approximate to one billion dollars. Only a minority of neonates with this infection has symptoms present at birth and some of the damage to ear and brain occurs in the first few months of life. Extensive studies of CMV infection have been conducted in pregnant women and their children to define the natural history of this infection. What is required now is a concerted commitment to tackle this clinical problem using one or more of the following strategies: avoid iatrogenic transmission; advise those at risk how to avoid acquisition; provide diagnosis in an individual neonate or pregnant woman and offer treatment; develop and deploy a CMV vaccine.
Copyright 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd.