It is estimated that 20,000 babies are born with congenital cytomegalovirus (cCMV) infection annually in
the United States. Congenital cytomegalovirus infection is a leading cause of
childhood hearing loss, cognitive deficits and visual impairments.
However, universal newborn screening has not been
adopted partly because of questions around cost-effectiveness.
Soren Gantt, of the University of British
Columbia, Vancouver, and coauthors created models using rates and
outcomes to estimate the cost-effectiveness of universal and targeted
(only newborns with failed hearing screenings) programs to screen for
cCMV infection in newborns compared with no screening. A definitive
diagnosis of cCMV requires viral detection in saliva, urine or blood
‘Screening newborns for congenital cytomegalovirus infection is associated with cost savings across a wide range of assumptions.’
The authors report that among all infants born in the United States,
identifying one case of cCMV infection by universal screening was
estimated to cost $2,000 to $10,000 or $566 to $2,832 by targeted
screening. Identifying one case of hearing loss due to cCMV was $27,460
by universal screening or $975 by targeted screening.
Study limitations include estimations of the costs of screening,
costs associate with hearing loss and assumptions about the impact of
"We found that screening newborns for cCMV infection is generally
associated with cost savings, or is essentially cost neutral from the
perspective of net public spending, across a wide range of assumptions.
These results, combined with the reported clinical benefits and high
parental acceptance, appear to satisfy accepted criteria for newborn
screening. Thus, in the absence of a vaccine or other effective methods
to prevent cCMV infection, newborn cCMV screening appears warranted in
the United States," the study concludes.