CMV is a very common virus and it is estimated that more than 60% of Australian adults have had this virus at some time. It is spread by direct contact (e.g. through handling objects with saliva on them then touching the eyes, nose or mouth without first washing your hands). If you have had CMV, it is possible that you did not know as you may have only experienced flu like symptoms or no symptoms at all. At the moment, there is no vaccination available to prevent the spread of CMV from person to person. If a pregnant mother is infected with CMV during pregnancy, there is a chance that her baby can also be infected with CMV. Research suggests that approximately 1-7% of babies are born with the CMV virus (congenital CMV).
Babies born with congenital CMV may or may not experience medical problems. Some babies with congenital CMV can be born with a hearing loss, or develop hearing loss over time. Congenital CMV accounts for around 15-20% of congenital hearing loss that affects both ears. For some babies with congenital CMV, hearing loss and other medical problems, giving them a treatment within the first month of life may be beneficial. We do not yet know whether the treatment benefits babies with congenital CMV and/or hearing loss without other medical problems.
A team of researchers, Victorian hearing screeners and clinicians in Melbourne are working together to see whether congenital CMV can be detected early enough to offer treatment. With a simple saliva test, we would like to find out which babies have been affected by congenital CMV. We expect that the majority of babies tested will not have congenital CMV. If the saliva test proves a baby has the CMV virus, the HearS-cCMV team will help their parents to organise an appointment with a specialist to discuss the best management options for them.
Babies meet the entry requirements to take part in the study if they:
- are aged 21 days or less,
- do not get a ‘pass’ result on their second Victorian Infant Hearing Screening Program (VIHSP) hearing screen, i.e. receive a ‘refer’ result, and
- have had their VIHSP hearing screen done at the Royal Women’s Hospital, Mercy Hospital for Women, Monash Medical Centre or Sunshine Hospital.