Objective: To determine the prevalence and temporal changes of sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) among children with clinically inapparent (asymptomatic) congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection identified from a cohort of newborn infants screened for congenital CMV infection.
Methods: The study population consisted of 307 children with documented asymptomatic congenital CMV infection, 76 uninfected siblings of children with asymptomatic congenital CMV infection, and 201 children whose neonatal screen for congenital CMV infection showed negative results. Audiologic evaluations were completed for all children to determine their hearing status.
Results: SNHL occurred only in children with congenital CMV infection. Of the children with asymptomatic congenital CMV infection, 22 (7.2%; 95% confidence interval, 4.5% to 10.6%) had SNHL. Among the children with hearing loss, further deterioration of hearing occurred in 50.0%, with the median age at first progression at 18 months (range, 2 to 70 months). Delayed-onset SNHL was observed in 18.2% of the children, with the median age of detection at 27 months (range, 25 to 62 months). Fluctuating SNHL was documented in 22.7% of the children with hearing loss.
Conclusions: Asymptomatic congenital CMV infection is likely a leading cause of SNHL in young children. The continued deterioration of hearing and delayed onset of SNHL in these children emphasizes the need for continued monitoring of their hearing status.