Newborn Dried Blood Spot Polymerase Chain Reaction to Identify Infants with Congenital Cytomegalovirus-Associated Sensorineural Hearing Loss

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To determine the utility of dried blood spot (DBS) polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in identifying infants with cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection–associated sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL).

Study design

Newborns at 7 US hospitals between March 2007 and March 2012 were screened for CMV by saliva rapid culture and/or PCR. Infected infants were monitored for SNHL during the first 4 years of life to determine sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative likelihood ratios of DBS PCR for identifying CMV-associated SNHL.


DBS at birth was positive in 11 of 26 children (42%) with SNHL at age 4 years and in 72 of 270 children (27%) with normal hearing (P = .11). The sensitivity (42.3%; 95% CI, 23.4%-63.1%) and specificity (73.3%; 95% CI, 67.6%-78.5%) was low for DBS PCR in identifying children with SNHL at age 4 years. The positive and negative likelihood ratios of DBS PCR positivity to detect CMV-associated SNHL at age 4 years were 1.6 (95% CI, 0.97-2.6) and 0.8 (95% CI, 0.6-1.1), respectively. There was no difference in DBS viral loads between children with SNHL and those without SNHL.


DBS PCR for CMV has low sensitivity and specificity for identifying infants with CMV-associated hearing loss. These findings, together with previous reports, demonstrate that DBS PCR does not identify either the majority of CMV-infected newborns or those with CMV-associated SNHL early in life.

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