Cytomegalovirus and hearing loss in children

Last update on Oct, 20, 2021

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection in very young children or from the fetus in utero can cause congenital infantile deafness, a disease that is estimated to affect approximately one in 1000 newborns. In 50% of congenital infantile deafness, in fact, this is the consequence of the transmission of infections to the child already in the maternal uterus, among which the Cytomegalovirus is the main culprit.

What is Cytomegalovirus?

Cytomegalovirus is a virus that belongs to the Herpesvirus family and is very common in humans. In people with good health, however, the Cytomegalovirus infection remains silent in the body and does not give any symptoms or problems. The virus is activated only if it is faced with a compromised or incomplete immune system, causing even very serious consequences. The infection is therefore dangerous if contracted by pregnant women, infants and children under two years of life. These are the cases in which the immune system is developing and not prepared to face such a complex enemy.

How is the infection transmitted?

Cytomegalovirus infection is transmitted from person to person through seminal fluid, urine, blood, saliva and breast milk. We are talking about primary infection if the virus is contracted for the first time and non-primary infection when it comes to reinfection or reactivation of the virus already latent in the body. Some risk situations can be:

  • Blood transfusions;
  • Bone marrow or organ transplants
  • Pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.

Cytomegalovirus positivity in pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding

Cytomegalovirus contracted during pregnancy is the main cause of congenital pathologies in the newborn. The mother who is positive for Cytomegalovirus can pass it on to her baby even during childbirth or during breastfeeding.

Cytomegalovirus deafness in infants and children

Based on various sector studies, Cytomegalovirus appears to be the second cause of bilateral congenital deafness in children, preceded only by the mutation in the congenital 26 gene, responsible for congenital hereditary deafness.

Is hearing loss from Cytomegalovirus permanent?

The hearing loss caused by the infection can be diagnosed from the first days of life through a newborn hearing screening. In the newborn with confirmed congenital deafness, the hearing damage is permanent.

If, on the other hand, the hearing loss occurs months or years after birth, the baby may have a chance to recover. It is estimated that congenital hearing loss with late onset has an incidence of 30-50% of total cases. In both situations, contacting a specialist to understand how to behave is the first step to help the child along the growth path, starting with the development of language.

Prevention against Cytomegalovirus

Although no vaccine against Cytomegalovirus is available to date, it is possible to prevent infection by implementing specific behavioral hygiene measures to reduce the risk of contagion. Between these:

  • wash your hands often and thoroughly;
  • avoid sharing personal items such as plates, glasses, cutlery, towels;
  • avoid risky behaviors when in contact with small children.

These measures are especially recommended for pregnant women.

Find your nearest Amplifon clinic

News & Blog

Catch up on the latest news and stories on hearing health.
Learn more

Get support and advice

Book a free hearing test

Book now

Test your hearing online

Take the test

Find your nearest store

Find a store