New York State to start screening newborns for another virus

N.Y. (WETM) — New York will be the second state to start screening newborns for Congenital Cytomegalovirus (cCMV).

According to the New York State Department of Health, all babies will be screened for cCMV starting on Oct. 2. This virus is provisionally being added to the New York State Newborn Screening Program for one year. The addition follows the screening program receiving a contract from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Minnesota is currently the only other state that screens newborns for cCMV.

Congenital Cytomegalovirus is a common virus, and according to the CDC, one in every 200 babies born in the United States has cCMV. Developing babies can become infected with the virus when their mothers come into contact with it. Although most babies who have cCMV remain healthy, about 10% of babies who test positive for it have symptoms at birth.

Congenital Cytomegalovirus symptoms in infants include low birth rate, rashes, jaundice, microcephaly (a small head), seizures, damage to the retina, and an enlarged liver and spleen. Another 10% to 15% of babies with the virus will develop hearing and/or vision loss along with other symptoms later in childhood. This virus is the leading cause of nonhereditary hearing loss in children.

Babies who test positive for cCMV will be referred to specialists for follow-ups and evaluations. Parents can opt out of having the results included in their babies’ records by filling out a form.

The New York State Newborn Screening Program has been testing newborns for diseases at no cost to parents since 1965. The program originally screened for phenylketonuria, and now it tests babies for over 50 different diseases.

A baby is screened for these diseases by having their heel pricked about 24 to 36 hours after birth. The small blood sample is then used to identify if the baby potentially has one of the diseases, and further testing is required to confirm a diagnosis. Earlier treatment for the diseases leads to the infants having better outcomes.

To learn more about the New York State Newborn screening program, visit the Department of Health, Wadsworth Center’s website. More information about Congenital Cytomegalovirus can be found on the CDC’s website.

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