This week, the Connecticut State Senate unanimously passed House Bill 5525, An Act Concerning Cytomegalovirus (“CMV”).
If signed into law by Governor Dannel Malloy, beginning January 1st, 2016, Connecticut hospitals and healthcare providers will be required to test newborns for CMV if they fail a hearing screening.
Healthcare providers will also be required to report any confirmed cases of CMV to the Connecticut Department of Public Health. Notably however, House Bill 5525 does not legislate a public education program that might help communicate the dangers of CMV infection to pregnant women and women considering pregnancy. That portion of the Bill was removed following budgetary concerns.
Representative Prasad Srinivasan discusses CMV in the CT Capitol House chamber on May 6th, 2015.
In a press release announcing the Bill’s passage, State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff said that he believed the new law could help Connecticut families affected with CMV – parents with CMV-infected newborns will receive counseling and access to treatment options. Although not referenced by Mr. Duff, treatment options may include antiviral therapies specific to CMV.
Congenital CMV infection often goes undetected because the majority of affected infants do not present symptoms at birth. Some research has shown that routine screening of newborns could allow infected infants to receive better care.
Each year in the U.S., approximately 5,000 infants will develop permanent problems due to CMV, some of them severe, including deafness, blindness, and mental retardation. Congenital CMV is believed to cause more disability than Down syndrome and fetal alcohol syndrome, but awareness of the condition remains low – a 2012 study examining child to mother transmission of CMV revealed that only 7% of men and 13% of U.S. women surveyed had heard of congenital CMV.
To voice your support for House Bill 5525, contact the office of Governor Malloy.