The burden of congenital cytomegalovirus infection: A prospective cohort study of 20 000 infants in Finland

Academic Article


  • Background. Congenital cytomegalovirus (cCMV) infection is the most common congenital infection and causes significant morbidity. This study was undertaken to evaluate the benefits of screening newborns for cCMV and to understand the cCMV disease burden in Finland. Methods. Infants born in Helsinki area hospitals were screened for CMV by testing their saliva with a real-time polymerase chain reaction assay. The CMV-positive infants and matched controls were monitored to determine their neurodevelopmental, audiological, and ophthalmological outcomes at 18 months of age. Griffiths Mental Development Scales, otoacoustic emission and sound field audiometry, and ophthalmologic examination were performed. Results. Of the 19 868 infants screened, 40 had confirmed cCMV infection (prevalence, 2 in 1000 [95% confidence interval, 1.4-2.6 in 1000]). Four (10%) infants had symptomatic cCMV. Griffiths general quotients did not differ significantly between the CMV-positive (mean, 101.0) and control (mean, 101.6) infants (P = .557), nor did quotients for any of the Griffiths subscales (locomotion, personal-social, hearing and language, eye and hand, performance) (P = .173-.721). Four of 54 CMV-positive ears and 6 of 80 CMV-negative ears failed otoacoustic emission testing (P = 1.000). The mean minimal response levels over the frequencies 500 Hz to 4 kHz in the sound field audiometry did not differ between CMV-positive (mean, 34.31-dB hearing level) and control (mean, 32.73-dB hearing level) infants (P = .338). No CMV-related ophthalmologic findings were observed. Conclusions. The prevalence of cCMV was low, and outcomes at 18 months of age did not differ between the infected infants and healthy control infants. With such a low burden in Finland, universal newborn screening for cCMV seems unwarranted.
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    Author List

  • Puhakka L; Lappalainen M; Lönnqvist T; Niemensivu R; Lindahl P; Nieminen T; Seuri R; Nupponen I; Pati S; Boppana S
  • Start Page

  • 205
  • End Page

  • 212
  • Volume

  • 8
  • Issue

  • 3