Neonatal screening bill becomes law, will test newborns for common virus

by | Jan 2, 2023


  • Senate Bill 292 went into effect on Jan 1, which establishes a statewide medical regulation that requires the screening of newborns for early hearing loss
  • The bill’s passage mandates that all qualified or state-licensed birthing facilities screen newborn infants for signs of potential hearing loss before they can be discharged
  • Should a newborn fail the hearing test, the facility is required to administer a test for congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV)
  • One out of every 200 babies is born with congenital CMV infection, and approximately 20 percent of babies with congenital CMV infection will have long-term health problems

Senate Bill 292 went into effect on Sunday, establishing a statewide interdisciplinary program to detect early hearing loss in newborns with subsequent follow-up care.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Tina Polsky and co-introduced by Sen. Lauren Book, according to the Senate database, lays out a goal to screen all newborns for hearing loss in order to alleviate the adverse effects of hearing loss on speech and language development, academic performance, and cognitive development.

The bill’s passage mandates that all qualified or state-licensed birthing facilities screen newborn infants for signs of potential hearing loss before they can be discharged.

If a newborn fails the hearing test, the facility is required to administer a test approved by the Food and Drug Administration or another diagnostically equivalent test on the newborn to screen for congenital cytomegalovirus before the newborn becomes 89 days of age or before discharge, whichever occurs earlier.

“So proud this bill is now law,” said Polsky. “SB 292 requires hospitals to test newborns for congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) if infants fail hearing tests. The virus can cause hearing loss. Treatment can save their hearing!”

Per the bill, the regulation also applies to at-home birthing treatments.

Additionally, all screening tests must be reported to the state Department of Health within 7 days of being administered.

According to the Center for Disease Control, cytomegalovirus is a common virus that infects people of all ages. Over half of adults have been infected with CMV by age 40, with most showing no signs or symptoms.

When a baby is born with cytomegalovirus infection, it is called congenital CMV. About one out of every 200 babies is born with congenital CMV infection, and approximately 20 percent of babies with congenital CMV infection will have long-term health problems.

Hearing loss among infants diagnosed with CMV progress from mild to severe during the first two years of life. Over time, progressive hearing loss can affect a child’s ability to develop communication, language, and social skills.

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