Virus causes hearing loss among newborns

Sydney: A viral infection that causes hearing loss and intellectual disability in newborn babies is greatly under-diagnosed, a report said.

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common viral infection that causes flu-like or no symptoms in healthy people. However, it can cause problems if the infection occurs for the first time during pregnancy.

"CMV is greatly under-diagnosed," said Professor William Rawlinson from the University of New South Wales, reports the Australian Medical Journal.

A surveillance project between 1999 and 2009 showed that out of about 1,800 cases of CMV a year, only five to 25 were being diagnosed, according to a New South Wales statement.

Rawlinson said CMV screening would be cost-effective and an antiviral therapy was available for treatment in infants before 30 days of age.

"Most infected babies will be well. However, about half of the infants who develop disease will not show symptoms at birth and are unlikely to be identified without screening," he said.

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