New York Implements Statewide Screening for Congenital CMV Virus
New York has become the latest state to introduce routine screening for congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) in newborn babies. With more than half of adults infected with CMV and approximately one in every 200 babies born with congenital CMV, identifying the virus early is crucial to prevent serious complications.
Babies born with CMV can experience symptoms such as smaller head size, liver and lung problems, hearing loss, a rash, and developmental delays. To detect the virus, healthcare professionals will use a routine heel prick test, which leaves a dried blood spot on filter paper. While this method has an accuracy rate of about 80%, follow-up tests using urine or saliva provide more accurate results.
Minnesota was the first state to take the initiative, enacting universal CMV screening. Following suit, Connecticut has passed a law requiring universal screening starting in 2025. New York’s pilot program is the largest state-wide screening effort for CMV and may serve as a model for other states looking to implement similar measures.
Although there is currently no vaccine for CMV, early detection and intervention can significantly improve a child’s life through monitoring and treatment. The advocacy of parents who have witnessed the health effects of CMV on their children has led to increased awareness and screenings for the virus.
The nationwide push to add congenital CMV to the federal Recommended Uniform Screening Panel has faced challenges. A nomination request by the National CMV Foundation was considered insufficient by a federal advisory committee. However, New York’s pilot study and the program in Minnesota are expected to provide valuable insights into the benefits of CMV screening, potentially influencing policymakers to prioritize its inclusion.
Highlighting the importance of CMV screening in newborns, US Senator Richard Blumenthal has announced plans to introduce the Stop CMV Act of 2023. The proposed legislation aims to incentivize hospitals and healthcare providers to conduct CMV screenings within the first three weeks of a baby’s life.
Despite the prevalence of CMV, many expectant parents remain unaware of the virus and its potential risks. Advocates, including Lisa Saunders, whose daughter suffered from CMV, are working tirelessly to raise awareness about prevention and the need for newborn screening.
New York’s implementation of statewide CMV screening marks a significant step forward in healthcare, giving newborns the best possible chance for a healthy start in life. With increased awareness and widespread screenings, the hope is to prevent the devastating effects of CMV on infants and ultimately improve their long-term outcomes.
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