Evaluating the feasibility of integrating salivary testing for congenital CMV into the Newborn Hearing Screening Programme in the UK

Eur J Pediatr. 2015 Aug;174(8):1117-21. doi: 10.1007/s00431-015-2506-8. Epub 2015 Mar 7.


Congenital cytomegalovirus (cCMV) accounts for 20% of all childhood sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) but is not routinely tested for at birth. Valganciclovir has been shown to prevent hearing deterioration and improve neurocognitive outcomes if started in the first month of life. This study aimed to assess the feasibility of integrating testing for cCMV using salivary swabs into the Newborn Hearing Screening Programme (NHSP). Parents of newborns <22 days old in South West London, who were referred after their initial newborn hearing screen for further audiological testing, were approached by hearing screeners to obtain a saliva sample for CMV DNA polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Eighty percent (203/255) of newborns who were eligible had a saliva swab taken by the hearing screener. Over 99% of results were delivered within the first month of life. Two newborns were identified with cCMV and both seen on day 10 of life by the paediatric specialist. All saliva samples tested delivered a result using real-time PCR.

Conclusion: It is feasible for hearing screeners to obtain saliva swabs to test for CMV DNA using real-time PCR in newborns referred after their initial hearing screen. Rapid diagnostic testing for cCMV needs a more detailed clinical and cost-effectiveness analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Cytomegalovirus / genetics*
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Hearing Tests / methods*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • London
  • Male
  • Neonatal Screening / methods*
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction*
  • Saliva / chemistry*