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New York Started to Screen all Newborns for an Incurable Disease – Congenital Cytomegalovirus.

New York is going to screen all newborns for Incurable disease - Congenital Cytomegalovirus.

New York State has taken a significant step in newborn healthcare by becoming the second state in the nation, following Minnesota, to implement universal screening for Congenital Cytomegalovirus, or cCMV.

The New York State Newborn Screening Program recently secured a contract from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). It includes cCMV screening as part of its routine newborn screening process. This initiative ensures that all newborns will undergo free cCMV testing.

Impact of screening 

Most newborns will test negative for cCMV. However, the screening is crucial for the minority who may be affected. Approximately 10% of infants screen positive for cCMV. They will exhibit symptoms of the infection at birth, as reported by the New York State Department of Health.

These symptoms can include rashes, jaundice, low birth weight, microcephaly, an enlarged liver and spleen, seizures, and retinal damage. Additionally, 10% to 15% of those who test positive may experience hearing or vision loss and display other symptoms later in their childhood. Notably, cCMV infection is recognized as the leading non-hereditary cause of hearing loss in childhood.

Guidance and Support

In cases where babies screen positive for cCMV, the New York State Department of Health will refer them to specialized healthcare providers across the state for comprehensive follow-up and evaluation. It’s worth noting that parents can decline to have the screening results recorded in their baby’s medical record.

This proactive approach to cCMV screening ensures that affected infants receive timely attention and support. New York State’s commitment to this initiative reflects a significant stride in safeguarding the well-being of its newborns.

What is Congenital cytomegalovirus?

Congenital cytomegalovirus (cCMV) is an infection. It occurs when a fetus infected with cytomegalovirus (CMV) in the womb. CMV is a common virus transmitted through contact with body fluids. 


Most babies with cCMV are born without any symptoms, but some may have symptoms at birth or develop them later in life. These symptoms can include 

  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Small size for gestational age
  • Microcephaly (a small head)
  • Hepatosplenomegaly (enlarged liver and spleen)
  • Petechiae (small red spots on the skin)
  • Chorioretinitis (inflammation of the retina and choroid, the inner layer of the eye)
  • Sensorineural hearing loss
  • Seizures

How to prevent Congenital cytomegalovirus?

There is no cure for cCMV, but treatments can help reduce the infection’s severity and prevent long-term health problems. These treatments include antiviral medications, supportive care, and early intervention.

To reduce the risk of transmitting CMV to their baby, pregnant women should wash their hands frequently, avoid kissing young children on the mouth, avoid sharing food and drinks with young children, avoid contact with the urine and saliva of young children, cook meat thoroughly, and avoid unpasteurized milk and cheese.

If you are pregnant and have any questions about cCMV, please talk to your doctor.

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