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A routine screening test for several metabolic and genetic disorders in newborns, the heel-stick procedure, is not effective in screening for cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection, a leading cause of hearing loss in children, according to research published in the April 14 online issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
About 20,000-30,000 infants are born infected with CMV each year, 10-15 percent of whom are at risk for eventually developing hearing loss.
The study, funded by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), one of the National Institutes of Health, is part of a multicenter research project headed by the University of Alabama at Birmingham that is seeking to find the most effective screening test for CMV infection in newborns. The standard method for detecting CMV infection in newborns is labor-intensive and not conducive to a widespread screening program.