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CMV and hearing loss

Information on Cytomegalovirus (CMV)

Congenital cytomegalovirus (cCMV) is the most common infectious cause of birth defects in the United States. cCMV is also the leading non-genetic cause of sensorineural hearing loss in the United States. About 1 out of 200 babies is born with cCMV, and 1out of 5 babies with cCMV will have symptoms or long-term health problems including:

  • Hearing loss
  • Neurodevelopmental Delay (e.g. intellectual disability, lack of coordination or weakness)
  • Microcephaly (small head size)
  • Seizures
  • Vision loss

Hearing loss may be present at birth or may develop later in babies who passed their newborn hearing test. Hearing loss may progress from mild to severe during the first two years of life, which is a critical period for language learning. Over time, hearing loss can affect your child’s ability to develop language and social skills. Hearing should be monitored for any child with cCMV infection. Learn more from CDC at www.cdc.gov/cmv/hearing-loss.html.

Prevention

Pregnant women in frequent or prolonged contact with young children are at the greatest risk of contracting CMV (Manicklal, 2013 (PDF)). Prenatal counseling should always include CMV prevention measures, all of which reduce exposure to the body fluids of children. If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, there are simple and effective prevention measures you can take to lessen the risk of contracting CMV:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, especially after diapering, toileting, or coming in contact with saliva.
  • Do not share food, drinks, or eating utensils, especially with children.
  • Avoid contact with saliva when kissing a child. For example, consider kissing them on the forehead instead of lips.
  • Clean toys, counters, and other surfaces that come in contact with urine or saliva.
  • Do not put a child’s pacifier in your mouth (Brown, 2019)

Additional resources

References

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