May 24, 2016 – CMV and Learning

May 20, 2016

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Anchor lead:  Exposure to the CMV virus during pregnancy may lead to learning disabilities in children, Elizabeth Tracey reports

CMV, or cytomegalovirus, is an important cause of newborn abnormalities worldwide, likely a much bigger problem than Zika, Ravit Boger, a pediatric infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins, asserts.  And while problems may be immediately apparent at birth, they can also take some time to reveal themselves.

Boger: We do see children who have a mild hearing loss, some learning disabilities, and many newborns are actually symptomatic CMV infected babies, where they have no symptoms at all.  Without a screening program we actually don’t detect any of these newborns. Around 15% of them will end up developing major hearing loss around the time they enter elementary school.   :29

Boger is in favor of screening newborns for CMV, since some treatment is available.  She believes such screening would shed a lot more light on just how big a public health problem CMV infection during pregnancy is.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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