The association between congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection and sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) was first described almost 50 years ago. Studies over the intervening decades have further described the relationship between congenital CMV infection and SNHL in children. However, congenital CMV infection remains a leading cause of SNHL in children in the United States and the world today. As more CMV infections are identified, it is important to recognize that infants who are born to seroimmune mothers are not completely protected from SNHL, although their hearing loss is often milder than that seen in CMV-infected infants following primary maternal infections. Late-onset and progressive hearing losses occur following congenital CMV infection, and CMV-infected infants should be evaluated regularly to provide for early detection of hearing loss and appropriate intervention. Fluctuating hearing loss that is not explained by concurrent middle ear infections is another characteristic of CMV-related hearing loss in children. Challenges still remain in predicting which children with congenital CMV infection will develop hearing loss and, among those who do develop loss, whether or not the loss will continue to deteriorate.
Keywords: congenital infection; cytomegalovirus; sensorineural hearing loss.