High CMV viral load at birth is tied to hearing loss

Contemporary PEDS JournalVol 38 No 2
Volume 38
Issue 02

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is linked to hearing loss in affected children. An investigation looks into whether the viral load impacts this risk.

The prevalence of late-onset hearing loss was 2.9% among children with probable asymptomatic congenital cytomegalovirus (cCMV) infection in the highly immune population of China, according to a recent report. Further, children with late-onset hearing loss had higher median CMV salivary viral loads at birth than children without hearing loss and no significant differences in any other maternal or child factors.

Among 141 children identified with cCMV infection and followed up with annually for 1 to 4 years, 4 children were identified with sensorineural hearing loss (2 bilateral and 2 unilateral). All 4 of these children passed their initial hearing screening after birth, and none experienced conductive hearing. Two of the children were found to have hearing loss during a follow-up visit at age 4 and 4.3 years, respectively. The third child was found to have hearing loss at age 1.4 years but had normal hearing at age 3.2 years. The fourth child had hearing loss at age 1.2 and 2.2 years. The degree of hearing loss in these children ranged from mild to moderate.1

Thoughts from Dr. Farber

Our population is similar to China’s, and I expect the results to be valid here as well. Routine newborn screening for CMV is coming, and when it arrives, the newborns who test positive should be candidates for further hearing screening when older, even if they passed as newborns.


  1. Wang C, Liu X, Wang S, et al. Late-onset hearing loss from congenital cytomegalovirus infection after newborn period in a highly immune population in China. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2021;40[1]:70-73.doi:10.1097/INF.0000000000002922
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