MN becomes first state to screen all newborns for hearing-loss virus

Minnesota is now the first state in the Nation to screen all newborns for congenital cytomegalovirus; a common virus that can lead to hearing loss in about 20% of diagnosed cases.

The Minnesota Department of Health says each year, about 400 Minnesota infants and their families benefit from treatments or interventions thanks to newborn screening. Congenital cytomegalovirus becomes the newest addition to the more than 60 conditions for which Minnesota newborns are screened.

MDH says congenital cytomegalovirus is the most common viral infection in newborns. It occurs when the infection is passed from a pregnant person to their unborn baby and can cause a range of problems, including hearing loss. Officials estimate that up to 300 babies out of 65,000 born each year in Minnesota will have cCMV. Most conditions included in the state’s newborn screening panel are inherited through the genes of one or both parents. However, cCMV is an infectious disease. It is the first infectious disease added to the panel in Minnesota.

Symptoms at birth may include hearing loss, but a small portion of babies will also have other signs of disease such as a very small head, a smaller body than expected for age, skin rash, yellowing of skin and whites of eyes (jaundice), and/or enlarged liver and spleen. These children are also at risk for intellectual disabilities, hearing loss, vision loss and other health problems.