OBJECTIVES:

To assess the prevalence, characteristics, and risk of sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) in children with congenital cytomegalovirus infection identified through hospital-based newborn screening who were asymptomatic at birth compared with uninfected children.

METHODS:

We included 92 case-patients and 51 controls assessed by using auditory brainstem response and behavioral audiometry. We used Kaplan–Meier survival analysis to estimate the prevalence of SNHL, defined as ≥25 dB hearing level at any frequency and Cox proportional hazards regression analyses to compare SNHL risk between groups.

RESULTS:

At age 18 years, SNHL prevalence was 25% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 17%–36%) among case-patients and 8% (95% CI: 3%–22%) in controls (hazard ratio [HR]: 4.0; 95% CI: 1.2–14.5; P = .02). Among children without SNHL by age 5 years, the risk of delayed-onset SNHL was not significantly greater for case-patients than for controls (HR: 1.6; 95% CI: 0.4–6.1; P = .5). Among case-patients, the risk of delayed-onset SNHL was significantly greater among those with unilateral congenital/early-onset hearing loss than those without (HR: 6.9; 95% CI: 2.5–19.1; P < .01). The prevalence of severe to profound bilateral SNHL among case-patients was 2% (95% CI: 1%–9%).

CONCLUSIONS:

Delayed-onset and progression of SNHL among children with asymptomatic congenital cytomegalovirus infection continued to occur throughout adolescence. However, the risk of developing SNHL after age 5 years among case-patients was not different than in uninfected children. Overall, 2% of case-patients developed SNHL that was severe enough for them to be candidates for cochlear implantation.

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