Minnesota 1st state to screen all newborns for serious viral infection

The Minnesota Department of Health announced Feb. 8 that it will begin screening all newborns for a viral infection that is the most common infectious cause of birth defects in the U.S., making it the first state in the nation to do so.

When it is not detected early on, congenital cytomegalovirus can lead to long-term issues like hearing loss, seizures, developmental delays and loss of vision, according to the CDC. 

"Minnesota has expanded its newborn screening panel to help detect more conditions that can benefit from early interventions and/or treatment," the press release states. "Congenital cytomegalovirus becomes the newest addition to the more than 60 conditions for which Minnesota newborns are screened." 

The majority of the conditions newborns are screened for are genetic. The addition of the virus also makes it the first infectious disease to be added to the newborn screening panel for the state.

Detection is key, health experts say, because even if newborns do not show symptoms of the infection, hearing loss and other issues can and do arise later on in about 20 percent of cases. Knowing the result of either a positive or negative infection early on will allow parents to stay ahead of further issues down the line and monitor for changes.

The press release also noted that "newborn screening cannot predict if a baby will have symptoms, which is why additional testing is important for children with cCMV."

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