Newborn screening for congenital cytomegalovirus: Options for hospital-based and public health programs

J Clin Virol. 2009 Dec;46 Suppl 4:S32-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jcv.2009.08.019. Epub 2009 Sep 26.


Background: Congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection is a leading cause of sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) and developmental disability in children. Early identification of infected children through screening could allow for early intervention and improvement in functional outcomes among the subset who develop sequelae.

Objectives: To outline potential options and strategies for screening newborns for congenital CMV infection and to discuss barriers to screening and data needs to inform future policy decisions.

Study design: Commentary based on the literature and expert opinion on newborn dried blood spot screening, newborn hearing screening/Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) programs, and congenital CMV.

Results: Although no population-based screening for congenital CMV is underway, pilot newborn screening studies using a variety of assays with urine or dried blood spot specimens are underway. Challenges to screening are both practical-uncertain sensitivity of blood spot assays suitable for large-scale screening and lack of infrastructure for collection of urine specimens; and evidentiary-the need to demonstrate improved outcomes and value of screening to offset the expense and potential adverse psychosocial consequences for children and families whose children require periodic monitoring but never develop sequelae.

Conclusions: Screening for congenital CMV infection is a potentially important intervention that merits additional research, including the logistical feasibility of different screening options and psychosocial consequences for families.

MeSH terms

  • Cytomegalovirus / isolation & purification*
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / blood
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / congenital
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / diagnosis*
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / urine
  • Developmental Disabilities / prevention & control*
  • Developmental Disabilities / virology
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / prevention & control*
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / virology
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Neonatal Screening / methods*
  • United States