Utah Leads the U.S. in CMV Screening and Education

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Last year, Utah became the first state to pass legislation designed to improve CMV awareness and screening for those most at risk.

On June 14th, 2013, Governor Gary Herbert signed Utah House Bill HB0081, the first state level legislation dedicated to CMV. HB0081 establishes a public education program that requires healthcare providers to communicate the dangers of congenital CMV infection to pregnant women. HB0081 also mandates CMV screening for infants suffering from hearing loss.

 

In a 2007 literature review, Dr. Scott Gross, a Senior Health Economist at the CDC, found that 14% of children with congenital CMV infection went on to develop sensorineural hearing loss of some type. The literature suggests that 15% to 20% of cases of hearing loss could be attributable to congenital CMV infection.

Utah newborns who fail two hearing screenings are now required to undergo CMV testing within three weeks of birth. Infants with hearing loss who test positive for CMV are referred to the University of Utah, where healthcare providers provide treatment options and also teach parents how they can help limit future CMV transmission.

Because a child with CMV can spread the virus for years, education may be the best current option to reduce transmission of the disease. A 2012 study (a summary of which can be found here) revealed that only 7% of men and 13% of U.S. women surveyed had heard of congenital CMV. CMV is often transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids, especially saliva, and many women engage in behaviors that put them at risk when interacting with children still in diapers, including kissing, sharing utensils, and sharing food.

As one of the most forward looking states when it comes to CMV awareness and prevention, Utah is also home to the CMV Public Health and Policy Conference, an event being held this September in Salt Lake City.

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