New York State Department of Health to Screen Newborns for Congenital Cytomegalovirus

New York Becomes the Second State in the Country to Screen for the Virus

ALBANY, N.Y. (September 29, 2023) – The New York State Department of Health announced that effective October 2, 2023, all babies will be screened for Congenital Cytomegalovirus (cCMV), making New York the second state in the nation, after Minnesota, to screen all babies for the virus.

The New York State Newborn Screening Program was recently awarded a contract from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) to provisionally add cCMV to its screening panel. The free testing will be conducted during a baby's routine newborn screening.

"Infants born with Congenital Cytomegalovirus can have long-term health complications such as hearing and vision loss, seizures, and intellectual disabilities," State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. "I am pleased that New York has become the second state to implement this screening which will help to protect and improve the health of children who are in the very beginning stages of life."

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a very common virus. A baby can be infected when a pregnant person contracts the virus and passes it to their developing baby. When a baby is born with a CMV infection, it is called congenital CMV, or cCMV. Most babies will screen negative for the virus and most who have the virus will remain healthy. However, about 10% of babies who screen positive for cCMV will have symptoms of the infection at birth. Symptoms include rashes, jaundice, low birth weight, microcephaly (small head), an enlarged liver and spleen, seizures, and damage to the retina (eye). Another 10% to 15% will develop hearing and or vision loss and display other symptoms later in childhood. In fact, cCMV infection is the most common cause of nonhereditary hearing loss in childhood.

Babies who screen positive for cCMV will be referred to specialists across the state for follow-up and evaluation. Parents may opt out of having the screening results recorded in their baby's record.

The Department remains committed to screening all newborns to ensure that they are healthy and able to thrive during their early developmental stages.

The New York State Newborn Screening Program began in 1965 with testing for phenylketonuria, an inherited genetic disorder. Since then, New York has led the way in this field, now screening for more than 50 different diseases. Through early detection, hundreds of newborns born in New York State each year benefit from newborn screening, receiving life-saving treatments and interventions, allowing them to live healthier lives.

The New York State Newborn Screening Program information page can be found here.