Since auditory disability causes serious problems in the development of speech and in the total development of a child, it is crucial to diagnose possible hearing impairment as soon as possible after birth. This study evaluates the neonatal hearing screening program in Flanders, Belgium. The auditory ability of 118,438 babies was tested using the automated auditory brainstem response. We selected 194 babies with indicative hearing impairment and 332 matched controls to investigate the association between the presence of human cytomeg-alovirus (HCMV) in urine samples and sensorineural hearing loss and to analyze the sensibility and specificity of a cell culture assay and a quantitative PCR detection method. Our results indicate that significantly more babies with confirmed hearing impairment were HCMV positive after birth. Further, based on the results of our study, babies with HCMV viral loads above 4.5 log copies/ml urine seem to be 1.4 times more likely to have confirmed hearing impairment. Our follow-up study suggests that the hearing impairment of children infected with HCMV after birth is less likely to improve than that of HCMV-negative infants. Our results confirm that the presence of HCMV before or shortly after birth influences the outcome of hearing impairment. Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is a species-specific mem-ber of the betaherpesvirus family. Although HCMV infection in healthy children and adults usually is asymptomatic, it is th
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