In 1982, the Houston Congenital CMV Longitudinal Study began looking into the prevalence of congenital CMV infection and documenting long-term outcomes.
Between 1982 and 1992, more than 32,000 newborns in Houston were screened for congenital CMV. Those newborns found to be congenitally infected with CMV at birth were invited to enroll in a multidisciplinary study examining the long-term effects congenital CMV had on growth, neurodevelopment, hearing, and vision.1
According to Dr. Gail Demmler Harrison, professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, in the initial phases of the study, the high prevalence of congenital CMV was confirmed – between 0.4 and 0.8 percent of newborns screened each year tested positive for the virus in their urine.2
Now in their adulthood, the members of the original Houston Congenital CMV Longitudinal Study cohort continue to be followed as part of the longest running study on the long-term effects of congenital CMV infection. Persons with obvious symptoms of congenital CMV at birth have been found to have a much higher risk of permanent neurologic sequelae, deafness, and blindness.3 Additional background on the longitudinal study and its findings can be found here.
Despite the prevalence of CMV, a recently published study of Baylor College of Medicine students’ CMV knowledge revealed only 34 percent of first-year medical students had ever heard of congenital CMV. The study noted significant gaps in medical student awareness of CMV transmission, treatment, and prevention, highlighting opportunities for improvement in medical school curriculum.4
Congenital CMV is among the most common congenital viral infections – one out of every 100 to 150 newborns in the U.S. is born infected.5