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MNAAP Newsletter

Promoting Knowledge and Awareness of Congenital CMV

MarkSchleissBy Mark R. Schleiss, MD, FAAP, University of Minnesota Medical School

Congenital infection with cytomegalovirus (cCMV) is common, and usually not recognized in the newborn nursery. All pediatricians are familiar with the presentation of severely affected infants – hepatosplenomegaly, petechiae, microcephaly, hearing loss – but, in fact, most infants with cCMV are either asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic. When cCMV is diagnosed and I see an affected infant in my clinical practice, virtually every family tells me that they never heard of this infection – before it happened to them!

More and more in recent years, I have wondered how it can be true that this infection – the single most common infectious diseases responsible for developmental disability, in particular hearing loss, in the United States – is so poorly known. Indeed, there is much better awareness of diagnoses associated with neonatal disabilities, such as Down syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome, and Zika virus infection, than for cCMV. This lack of knowledge is particularly troubling in light of the fact that many cases of cCMV could be prevented by implementation of simple steps that prevent acquisition of infection during pregnancy (https://www.cdc.gov/features/prenatalinfections/index.html). Fortunately, in the past year extensive progress has been made in advancing awareness of cCMV infection.

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Collaborative Grant to Study Integrated Newborn Screening Hearing and CMV Screening in MN

MarkSchleissBy Mark R. Schleiss, MD, Division Director, Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Immunology, U of M Medical School

A new grant has enabled establishment of a research partnership between Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota and the University of Minnesota Medical Center (UMMC), aimed at evaluation of newborn infants who fail newborn hearing screening for possible congenital infection with cytomegalovirus (CMV).

CMV is the most common cause of congenital infection in pediatric practice, and is responsible for up to 30 percent of all cases of hearing loss in childhood. Although CMV can cause severe, clinically evident injury in newborns, consisting of features such as hepatosplenomegaly, microcephaly, and rash, most infants with congenital infection are in fact asymptomatic. Approximately 10-15 percent of asymptomatic congenitally infected infants will have hearing loss due to CMV infection.

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