New screening test for cCMV

An infant saliva test to screen for the leading infectious cause of hearing loss in babies – cCMV – has been found to be feasible and well-received by families.

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common virus in the herpesvirus family. Some babies who are born with this virus present at birth may have no symptoms. Some can have hearing loss, which can develop or progress over time, while others can experience other symptoms at birth or disabilities later in life. About 1 in every 200 babies is born with cCMV.

New research led by MCRI and published in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, has found that an infant saliva test to screen for cCMV has been found to be feasible and well-received by families.

Accurate diagnosis of cCMV requires a saliva test from an infant in the first 21 days after birth, with antiviral treatment recommended, if clinically indicated, within the first month of life.

Key findings

  • 76 per cent of parents agreed to do the screen
  • 100 per cent of infant saliva swabs were taken within the required timeframe
  • One baby was found to have cCMV and was immediately treated.
  • Over 90 per cent of parents thought the screening was easy to do, was a good idea, and were glad their baby had the test.

These findings could pave the way for testing of congenital cytomegalovirus (cCMV) to be added to infant hearing screening programs across Australia.

Centre for Community Child Health Paediatrician Associate Professor Valerie Sung said because cCMV was not routinely screened for in Australia, detecting affected infants in time to offer potential antiviral treatment was less likely.

“Given this test allows for an early and accurate cCMV diagnosis, could reduce unnecessary parental guilt, and help prevent lifelong disabilities, it should be rolled out nation-wide through newborn hearing screening programs,” she said.

More information

Read the paper

Watch Associate Professor Valerie Sung discuss the new screening program on Nine News, 16 September 2021.

Find out more about cCMV

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