Congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection in newborns can be detected by real-time polymerase-chain-reaction (PCR) assays of saliva samples. CMV infection is usually asymptomatic but can cause hearing loss. Currently newborns are not screened for CMV infection. Babies could benefit from early intervention as the PCR assays can be automated and adapted for widespread screening.
According to Suresh Boppana, MD, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham said, "Assays using both liquid and dried saliva had high sensitivity and specificity for identifying the infection, with positive predictive values over 90% and negative predictive values at or near 100%."
The research has been published in the June 2 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.