Lurie Children's Hospital: Improving Awareness and the Timely Diagnosis of cCMV in Illinois

Lurie Children's Hospital: Improving Awareness and the Timely Diagnosis of cCMV in Illinois

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is the most common congenital infection.  A serious disability related to CMV exposure in utero is hearing loss, which if present at birth can be detected early by the routine newborn hearing screen prior to hospital discharge.  In 2015, Illinois became the sixth state to institute a law in an effort to reduce disabilities associated with hearing loss due to congenital CMV.  It mandates newborn hospitals to discuss and offer CMV testing if a newborn fails their hearing screen.  However, this opportunity for testing is often missed by both medical providers and parents due to lack of awareness and infrastructure.  

Prentice Women’s Hospital and Maternity Center of Northwestern Memorial Hospital provides cutting-edge medical care for pregnant women and their infants in the city of Chicago and surrounding areas.  Our mission as pediatricians is to provide every child, from the moment of birth through adolescence, with the medical care they need to reach their fullest potential.  The ability of a newborn baby to hear the sounds of her parents and the sounds of the world around her is essential to her ability to learn to one day speak.  Our goal is to be able to provide a rapid diagnosis for those newborns who fail their hearing screens in the newborn nursery, when the hearing loss is attributable to infection with CMV during pregnancy.  Recent research has revealed treatment options for those newborns found to have hearing loss from congenital CMV, to optimize hearing outcomes and neurodevelopment. 

In a joint effort between the Divisions of Infectious Diseases and Hospital Based Medicine, Drs. Mithal and Skibley hope to raise awareness of congenital CMV through education and outreach to local Pediatric and Obstetric physicians.  We plan to provide posters and fliers to Obstetric offices so that pregnant women have the tools needed to know what to do if their baby fails the hearing screen.  We plan to visit the offices of our local pediatric practices for “lunch and learn” sessions so that all pediatricians recognize the importance of testing for CMV prior to hospital discharge when a newborn fails his or her first hearing screen. Finally we are hosting a mini-symposium on congenital CMV with national experts and parents affected by congenital CMV.  We can also provide an update on interventions that have recently surfaced, as many pediatricians trained during a time in which there was no treatment for CMV caused hearing loss. 

In total, our hope is to reach caregivers for about 20,000 newborn infants annually in the greater Chicagoland area through our in person and media educational initiatives.

Pictured: Dr. Lindsay Skibley (left) and Dr. Leena Mithal (right).