Abstract

Congenital cytomegalovirus infection is considered the main cause of infantile non-genetic neurosensory hearing loss. Although this correlation was described more than 50 years ago, the natural history of internal ear involvement has not yet been fully defined. Hearing loss is the most frequent sequela and is seen in a variable percentage up to 30%; the hearing threshold is characterised by fluctuations or progressive deterioration. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of hearing loss in cases of congenital CMV infection from Modena county, starting from the database of the microbiology and virology reference laboratory. All children undergoing urine testing for suspected CMV infection or viral DNA testing on Guthrie Card in the period between January 2004 and December 2014 were enrolled in the study. Family paediatricians were contacted and asked about clinical information on the possible presence at birth or subsequent occurrence of hearing loss, excluding cases where this was not possible. The results showed an annual prevalence of congenital cytomegalovirus infection among suspected cases that was stable over time despite the progressive increase in subjects tested. The prevalence of hearing loss was in line with the literature, whereas in long-term follow-up cases of moderate, medium-to-severe hearing loss with late onset were not detected. The introduction of newborn hearing screening in the county has allowed early diagnosis of hearing loss at birth as non-TEOAE-born births underwent a urine virus test. Moreover, despite all the limitations of the study, we can conclude that European epidemiological studies are needed to better define the relationship between congenital CMV infection and internal ear disease as the impact of environmental and genetic factors is still not entirely clarified.