Thanks to a new bill championed by Barry Strasnick, MD, FACS, Professor and Chair of EVMS Otolaryngology, hundreds of children born with hearing loss will now be screened for congenital Cytomegalovirus (CMV).
Dr. Strasnick worked with Stephanie Moody, MD, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology, to ensure HB 2026 was signed into law.
The legislation requires that all newborns who fail their hearing screening be checked for this serious virus. Most people infected with CMV show no symptoms, but it can cause severe health problems for people with compromised immune systems and unborn children. A pregnant woman can pass CMV to her unborn baby.
"Congenital cytomegalovirus affects approximately 1 out of every 200 newborns and is the most common cause of non-hereditary hearing loss,” Dr. Strasnick says. “By screening all newborns who fail their hearing test, we anticipate detecting a high number of these children during a critical period where treatment may be available to prevent or reduce the neurocognitive deficits that can occur as a result of this disease."
Among the signs and symptoms for CMV are hearing loss, vision loss and development delays.
“Not only will this law benefit all children, it will also raise awareness of CMV,” Dr. Strasnick says.
In 1999, Dr. Strasnick led the effort to make hearing screening mandatory for newborns across the commonwealth. After the law was authorized, about 300 children are identified to have hearing loss. That’s compared to 28 each year prior to the law.