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Newborn Screen Could Identify New Cause of Hearing Loss

An Inexpensive Saliva Swab Test Could Help Screen Newborns at Risk for Developing Hearing Loss during Childhood
Newborn Screening Could Identify New Cause of Hearing Loss
1 in 150 Children is Born with CMV--A Common Virus that Causes Hearing Loss and Development Disabilities

Birmingham, AL - A study just released from the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that an inexpensive saliva swab test could help screen newborns at risk for developing hearing loss during childhood. CMV
(cytomegalovirus) is the most common congenital infection in the United States and is the most common viral cause of birth defects and disabilities, including deafness, blindness, cerebral palsy, mental and physical disabilities, seizures, and death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 1 in every 150 children is born with congenital CMV.

Congenital CMV is more common that the disorders currently in the United States core newborn screening panel, but newborn screening for CMV has not been implemented at state levels. CMV saliva screening tests are affordable with an estimated cost of $2.50 to $3 per test.
"Thousands of babies are being discharged from hospitals around the country every year, poised to develop hearing loss and other developmental disabilities," says Janelle Greenlee, president and founder of Stop CMV, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness of congenital CMV. "Congenital CMV has long been the culprit of health and developmental issues, but it has and will continue to slip under the radar without state mandated newborn screening".

The Alabama study estimates that approximately 20 percent of hearing loss at birth and 25 percent of hearing loss seen in childhood is due to CMV. "Most babies with CMV infection won't be identified at birth, unless you screen them for CMV infection, because they look like every other healthy baby," says pediatrician and lead study author, Suresh Boppana. The study identified all babies infected with cytomegalovirus, or CMV, when using a wet saliva sample and approximately 97 percent when using a dried saliva sample. Newborns diagnosed with congenital CMV should have their hearing and vision tested annually and, because a child with congenital CMV may have special needs, their growth and development should be followed carefully.

June is National Congenital CMV Awareness Month. Women's awareness of CMV ranks last among other birth defects and common childhood illnesses despite CMV being one of the most common and most serious causes of birth defects and disabilities. The CDC reports incidence of congenital CMV as similar to that of Autism (1 in 150), and higher than Down Syndrome (1 in 3,357), Spina Bifida (1 in 2,500), and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (1.5 in 1,000).

Lead study author, Suresh Boppana, and Janelle Greenlee, president and founder of Stop CMV, will be speaking at the 2nd annual Congenital CMV Awareness Day being held on Monday, June 20th from 10am - 12pm at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia.
The event is sponsored by the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD) and the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD).

Since 2003, Stop CMV has worked to foster congenital CMV awareness via internet and public awareness campaigns. The mission of Stop CMV - The CMV Action Network is to prevent and eliminate congenital CMV and to improve the lives of all people affected by congenital CMV.
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