Congenital Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Related Hearing Loss

Congenital infection with cytomegalovirus (CMV) causes 10-20% of all cases of sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL). [Goderis: 2014] One third of children with symptomatic CMV, characterized by any combination of the following: low-birth weight, microcephaly, thrombocytopenia, jaundice, hepatosplenomegaly, seizures) and 10% children with asymptomatic CMV will develop sensorineural hearing loss. [Goderis: 2014]
Screening and Testing
Although symptomatic CMV may be suspected from a constellation of clinical signs/symptoms, CMV culture or PCR testing of the urine or saliva before 3 weeks of life is still considered the gold standard for diagnosing congenital CMV infection. Recent studies have reported false positive results from saliva CMV PCR or culture. [Leruez-Ville: 2017] [Puhakka: 2018] For that reason, we recommend a confirmatory urine CMV PCR or culture within the first 3 weeks of life for any child with a positive saliva CMV test. [Dedhia: 2018] Lab studies obtained after 3 weeks of age often cannot differentiate between congenital and postnatal infection. Testing of neonatal archived dry blood spots for CMV offers an option to diagnose the older child although a landmark study by Boppana et al. detected only 34% of infected children. [Boppana: 2010] There is ongoing controversy regarding universal or targeted CMV screening in pregnant women and/or infants. We have recently reported our state-wide results for hearing targeted early CMV screening. [Diener: 2017] Fourteen infants were diagnosed and we noted improvements in the time to diagnosis the hearing status of all infants who failed their newborn hearing screening.
CMV-related hearing loss is often progressive and may develop after the neonatal period. Fluctuating hearing loss is also common. Children with congenital CMV infection should have diagnostic hearing testing and regular hearing testing to identify and treat hearing impairment in a timely manner.
Research supports treatment of newborns with symptomatic congenital CMV infection to prevent or mitigate sensorineural hearing loss.[Kimberlin: 2015] Current recommendations are to start oral valganciclovir within the first month of life and careful monitoring of dose to avoid adverse side effects (e.g. neutropenia). [Rawlinson: 2017]
Prevention of congenital CMV through pre-conception vaccination has been an elusive goal for decades. [Schleiss: 2017] Perhaps a more practical recommendation is to provide information to potential mothers and to have them follow simple handwashing measures to reduce infection risk. [Din: 2011] [Stowell: 2012]


Information & Support

For Professionals

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and Congenital CMV Infection (CDC)
A clinical overview, testing, and management information for clinicians treating CMV infection; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CMV and Congenital Hearing Loss (UDHHS) (PDF Document 648 KB)
Includes information about symptoms, inheritance, diagnosis, finding a specialist, related diseases, and support organizations; Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. (UDHHS Formerly UDOH)

For Parents and Patients

Congenital CMV Infection (CDC)
From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, information about congenital CMV infection for families.


Treatment of CMV-related hearing loss (
Studies looking at better understanding, diagnosing, and treating this condition; from the National Library of Medicine.

Helpful Articles

Pass RF.
Cytomegalovirus infection.
Pediatr Rev. 2002;23(5):163-70. PubMed abstract

Lagasse N, Dhooge I, Govaert P.
Congenital CMV-infection and hearing loss.
Acta Otorhinolaryngol Belg. 2000;54(4):431-6. PubMed abstract

Williamson WD, Demmler GJ, Percy AK, Catlin FI.
Progressive hearing loss in infants with asymptomatic congenital cytomegalovirus infection.
Pediatrics. 1992;90(6):862-6. PubMed abstract

Misono S, Sie KC, Weiss NS, Huang ML, Boeckh M, Norton SJ, Yueh B.
Congenital cytomegalovirus infection in pediatric hearing loss.
Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2011;137(1):47-53. PubMed abstract / Full Text

Authors & Reviewers

Initial publication: September 2008; last update/revision: January 2019
Current Authors and Reviewers:
Author: Albert H. Park, MD
Contributing Author: Jennifer Goldman, MD, MRP, FAAP
Authoring history
2010: update: Richard Harward, AuDA
2008: first version: Karl White, Ph DA
AAuthor; CAContributing Author; SASenior Author; RReviewer

Page Bibliography

Boppana SB, Ross SA, Novak Z, Shimamura M, Tolan RW Jr, Palmer AL, Ahmed A, Michaels MG, Sánchez PJ, Bernstein DI, Britt WJ, Fowler KB.
Dried blood spot real-time polymerase chain reaction assays to screen newborns for congenital cytomegalovirus infection.
JAMA. 2010;303(14):1375-82. PubMed abstract / Full Text

Dedhia K, Graham E, Park A.
Hearing Loss and Failed Newborn Hearing Screen.
Clin Perinatol. 2018;45(4):629-643. PubMed abstract

Diener ML, Zick CD, McVicar SB, Boettger J, Park AH.
Outcomes From a Hearing-Targeted Cytomegalovirus Screening Program.
Pediatrics. 2017;139(2). PubMed abstract

Din ES, Brown CJ, Grosse SD, Wang C, Bialek SR, Ross DS, Cannon MJ.
Attitudes toward newborn screening for cytomegalovirus infection.
Pediatrics. 2011;128(6):e1434-42. PubMed abstract

Goderis J, De Leenheer E, Smets K, Van Hoecke H, Keymeulen A, Dhooge I.
Hearing loss and congenital CMV infection: a systematic review.
Pediatrics. 2014;134(5):972-82. PubMed abstract

Kimberlin DW, Aban I, Acosta EP.
Valganciclovir for Congenital Cytomegalovirus.
N Engl J Med. 2015;372(25):2463. PubMed abstract

Leruez-Ville M, Magny JF, Couderc S, Pichon C, Parodi M, Bussières L, Guilleminot T, Ghout I, Ville Y.
Risk Factors for Congenital Cytomegalovirus Infection Following Primary and Nonprimary Maternal Infection: A Prospective Neonatal Screening Study Using Polymerase Chain Reaction in Saliva.
Clin Infect Dis. 2017;65(3):398-404. PubMed abstract

Puhakka L, Lappalainen M, Lönnqvist T, Niemensivu R, Lindahl P, Nieminen T, Seuri R, Nupponen I, Pati S, Boppana S, Saxen H.
The Burden of Congenital Cytomegalovirus Infection: A Prospective Cohort Study of 20 000 Infants in Finland.
J Pediatric Infect Dis Soc. 2018. PubMed abstract

Rawlinson WD, Boppana SB, Fowler KB, Kimberlin DW, Lazzarotto T, Alain S, Daly K, Doutré S, Gibson L, Giles ML, Greenlee J, Hamilton ST, Harrison GJ, Hui L, Jones CA, Palasanthiran P, Schleiss MR, Shand AW, van Zuylen WJ.
Congenital cytomegalovirus infection in pregnancy and the neonate: consensus recommendations for prevention, diagnosis, and therapy.
Lancet Infect Dis. 2017;17(6):e177-e188. PubMed abstract

Schleiss MR, Permar SR, Plotkin SA.
Progress toward Development of a Vaccine against Congenital Cytomegalovirus Infection.
Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2017;24(12). PubMed abstract / Full Text

Stowell JD, Forlin-Passoni D, Din E, Radford K, Brown D, White A, Bate SL, Dollard SC, Bialek SR, Cannon MJ, Schmid DS.
Cytomegalovirus survival on common environmental surfaces: opportunities for viral transmission.
J Infect Dis. 2012;205(2):211-4. PubMed abstract / Full Text