Aim: This study aimed to determine the feasibility and parental acceptability of screening for congenital cytomegalovirus (cCMV) through saliva polymerase chain reaction in infants who did not pass their newborn hearing screening. Additionally, the utility (i.e. time to diagnosis and treatment) of this enhanced clinical pathway was evaluated.
Methods: The study was conducted through the Victorian Infant Hearing Screening Programme (VIHSP) across four maternity hospitals in Melbourne, Australia, during June 2019-March 2020. Parents were approached by VIHSP staff about obtaining a test for cytomegalovirus (CMV) at the time of their baby’s second positive (‘refer’) result on the VIHSP screen. Participating parents collected a saliva swab for CMV polymerase chain reaction from their infants. Feasibility was determined by the proportion of ‘referred’ infants whose parents completed the salivary CMV screening test ≤21 days of life. Acceptability was measured through parent survey.
Results: Of 126 eligible families, 96 (76.0%) had salivary screening swabs taken ≤21 days of life. Most families (>92.0%) indicated that screening was acceptable, straightforward and thought testing their baby for cCMV was a good idea. One infant screened positive on day 30, was diagnosed with cCMV via confirmatory testing by day 31 and commenced valganciclovir on day 32.
Conclusions: Obtaining a saliva sample to screen for cCMV in infants who do not pass their newborn hearing screen is feasible and appears acceptable to parents. This targeted cCMV screening method could be an option where mothers are rapidly discharged from hospital, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.