Connecticut passes cytomegalovirus screening law for newborns

Connecticut passes cytomegalovirus testing law
Connecticut passes cytomegalovirus testing law

Newborn infants who fail an initial hearing screen will be required to undergo a  congenital cytomegalovirus test in Connecticut as part of the state's newly passed congenital cytomegalovirus law.

Congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common virus that can spread from a pregnant patient to her fetus, sometimes causing severe birth defects. CMV is more common than Down's syndrome, spina bifida and fetal alcohol syndrome; it is the leading cause of mental retardation and disability in children.

In a poll conducted by The Clinical Advisor in November 2014, an overwhelming majority of readers — 86.1% — believed that their pregnant patients should undergo routine screening for CMV infection.

“This law will require newborns who fail the hearing screen to be tested for cytomegalovirus. If it tests positive, the baby will receive the early intervention they need to improve their outcome in life,” said Lisa Saunders, a CMV awareness and policy advocate, said in Connecticut Magazine.

Timing is key when identifying CMV infection. Providers should test via viral urine culture or urine PCR within the first three weeks of life. If a newborn tests positive, the next step is to refer the infant immediately to a pediatric disease specialist is the next step.

Health care providers can perform antibody tests for immunoglobulin G (IgG) and immunoglobulin M (IgM )antibodies to test for CMV. IgG persists throughout the lifespan; IgM is detectable for up to six months post-primary infection or reactivation of the virus.

Viral urine culture or urine PCR within the first three weeks of life is the gold standard for screening newborns. If a newborn tests positive, immediate referral to a pediatric infectious disease specialist is warranted.

“This testing should raise awareness of the disease, which will then cause people to ask how it can be prevented in the first place,” said Saunders.

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