Does screening for congenital cytomegalovirus at birth improve longer term hearing outcomes?

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Currently, the diagnosis of congenital cytomegalovirus (cCMV) infection in most highly resourced countries is based on clinical suspicion alone. This means only a small proportion of cCMV infections are diagnosed. Identification, through either universal or targeted screening of asymptomatic newborns with cCMV, who would previously have gone undiagnosed, would allow for potential early treatment with antiviral therapy, ongoing audiological surveillance and early intervention if sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) is identified. This paper systematically reviews published papers examining the potential benefits of targeted and universal screening for newborn infants with cCMV. We found that the treatment of these infants with antiviral therapy remains controversial, and clinical trials are currently underway to provide further answers. The potential benefit of earlier identification and intervention (eg, amplification and speech therapy) of children at risk of later-onset SNHL identified through universal screening is, however, clearer.

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