Congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection is the leading infectious cause of neurologic disabilities and sensorineural hearing loss in children. Sensorineural hearing loss prevalence in CMV suggests a viral tropism for the inner ear. Vestibular disorders induced by CMV infection are underestimated. This is the largest and most thorough study to assess the incidence of vestibular disorders and their correlation with hearing thresholds in children with CMV.


This retrospective study assessed a cohort of 52 children with congenital CMV infection and sensorineural impairment who received a complete hearing and vestibular assessment. Vestibular evaluation included clinical examination, caloric bithermal test, earth vertical axis rotation, off-vertical axis rotation, and vestibular evoked myogenic potential. The prevalence, progression, and clinical impact of vestibular disorders were studied and correlated with hearing thresholds and the severity of congenital CMV infection.


Forty-eight children (92.3%) had hearing loss and vestibular disorders. Of those, vestibular disorders were complete and bilateral in 33.3%, partial and bilateral in 43.7%, and partial and unilateral in 22.9%. Serial testing in 14 children showed stable vestibular function in 50% and deterioration in 50%. Congenital CMV infection has a negative impact on postural development that is correlated with neurologic and vestibular impairment. Vestibular disorders were significantly associated with hearing disorders, but their respective severities showed no concordance.


Vestibular disorders are frequent and severe in CMV-infected children. Routine screening and appropriate management of vestibular lesions is essential to initiate adapted care.

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