Newborn screening for congenital cytomegalovirus


cytomegalovirus and hearing loss
©Valérie Duflot

A modelling study has found that universal newborn screening for congenital cytomegalovirus may help to reduce the severity of hearing loss in affected children by identifying the condition early.

Congenital cytomegalovirus (cCMV) is not only the most common congenital infection, but also a leading cause of hearing loss in children. The condition may be difficult to diagnose and late identification of cases is associated with various complications including hearing loss, due to the small window in which treatment is effective. Diagnosis involves expensive genetic testing and medical imaging.

On the basis of a modelling study, researchers from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada and colleagues have reported that universal newborn screening for cCMV infection appears to be cost-effective under a wide range of assumptions, including a modest benefit from antivirals and various cost estimates of treatments and potential savings. This approach contrasts with targeted screening in which only newborns who fail the universal hearing screen are tested.

According to the tested models, universal screening programs, although clearly more expensive than the targeted approach, were estimated to reduce severe-to-profound hearing loss by 4.2% to 13%. This would result in direct costs of CAD 10.86 per newborn screened. However, the models also showed savings of up to CAD 37.97 per newborn screened when costs related to functionality were included. The full results were recently published in JAMA Pediatrics.

Source: MedPage Today; Gantt S., et al. Cost-effectiveness of Universal and Targeted Newborn Screening for Congenital Cytomegalovirus Infection. JAMA Pediatrics. 2016 Oct 10.