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It’s time for universal CMV screening at birth


 

REPORTING FROM IDWEEK 2018

SAN FRANCISCOThere’s an increasing push in the United States to screen all newborns for congenital cytomegalovirus.

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The reason is because most of the time the diagnosis of congenital cytomegalovirus is missed. Only about 10% of infants infected with the virus present with enlarged livers and other classic signs. Too often, the infection isn’t caught until later, when hearing loss and other neurologic sequelae reveal themselves, according to Fatima Kakkar, MD, a pediatric infectious disease specialist and researcher at the University of Montreal.

There are effective treatments – intravenous ganciclovir for 6 weeks or oral valganciclovir (Valcyte) for 6 months – that control the infection and reverse its effects.

People have tried to address the situation by screening children with hearing loss, in utero HIV exposure, or cytomegalovirus symptoms, but in a study Dr. Kakkar presented at IDWeek, an annual scientific meeting on infectious diseases, such targeted efforts still missed a lot of children.

Many think the answer is universal screening, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are considering it. In a video interview at the meeting, Dr. Kakkar explained the issues, her study, and why universal screening is gaining support.

SOURCE: Kakkar F et al. IDWeek 2018, Abstract 115.

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