Wiley, Reviews in Medical Virology, 1(21), p. 54-61
Congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection is an important public health problem with approximately 7 in 1,000 newborns infected and consequently at risk for hearing impairment. Newborn hearing screening will fail to detect this hearing impairment in approximately half of the cases because late onset hearing loss is frequent. Hearing impairment has profound impact on cognitive and social development of children and their families, determining most of the disease burden of congenital CMV infection. The potential value of newborn screening for congenital CMV is increasingly discussed. To date, many experts acknowledge the benefit of antiviral treatment in the prevention of hearing deterioration in newborns with neurological symptoms, and the benefit of early identification of late-onset hearing impairment by means of extensive audiological follow up of infected infants. These opinions imply that the potential of newborn screening for CMV would lie in the identification of the large proportion of asymptomatic congenitally infected newborns at risk for developing late-onset hearing loss. Experience with postnatal antiviral treatment of symptomatic newborns is encouraging, but has not been studied in asymptomatic congenitally infected newborns. A large-scale study on the safety and effectiveness of combined screening and antiviral therapy for congenital CMV infection is the necessary next step to take and should not be delayed.