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About cytomegalovirus infection

Cytomegalovirus infection (CMV) is a common virus that infects people of all ages. Over half of adults have been infected with CMV by age 40. Most people infected with CMV show no signs or symptoms, but it can cause serious issues for those with weakened immune systems and for unborn babies

When an affected pregnant women passes CMV to her baby, it's called congenital CMV. This is the most common congenital infection in the U.S., with at least one of every 200 babies born having this infection. Most babies will not show any symptoms at birth, although some will have hearing loss at birth. In addition, some babies will have long-term health problems such as hearing loss, vision loss, intellectual disability, microcephaly (small head), cerebral palsy or seizures. Congenital CMV is diagnosed by testing saliva or urine during the first three weeks of life. 

Our approach 

At Cohen Children’s and affiliated hospitals, babies who fail their newborn hearing screen are tested for CMV before they leave the hospital. There are many benefits to early diagnosis of congenital CMV, including finding the reason for the baby's hearing loss, as well as timely hearing and speech treatments and referral to early intervention programs. We follow infected babies' progress closely, in collaboration with the Hearing and Speech Center, located on the same campus as Cohen Children’s. 

We participate in several National Institutes of Health studies pertaining to treatment of congenital CMV and hearing loss. One of these studies proved that some affected babies can be treated with an oral antiviral medicine called valganciclovir. We perform consultations to evaluate babies for antiviral treatment for CMV.

Additional resources

If you have questions about CMV, please call us at (718) 470-3480. You can also find more information from the CDC, as well as the National CMV Foundation.

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