Congenital cytomegalovirus (cCMV) affects approximately 1 in every 200 US infants and can be associated with long-term neurodevelopmental sequelae, including sensorineural hearing loss, cerebral palsy, and intellectual disability. As cCMV is infrequently diagnosed based on clinical suspicion alone, newborn cCMV screening programs have been gaining traction, especially hearing-targeted programs which only test infants who fail their newborn hearing screen. cCMV screening programs raise unique ethical dilemmas of both under- and over-diagnosis of cCMV. In this Ethics Rounds, we present a case in which the parents of a child with symptomatic cCMV that was not recognized until 4 years of age urge the birth hospital to implement a cCMV screening program. We then ask a parent-clinician, a medical ethicist and pediatrician, and a primary care pediatrician to comment on how they would advise the hospital administration and consider the ethical and clinical implications of a cCMV screening program. The commentaries herein arrive at differing conclusions about cCMV screening. The first highlights the developmental advantages of early cCMV detection, supporting a broad approach to treatment beyond antiviral medication alone. The second explores cCMV screening from the perspective of newborn screening as a public health program, noting shortcomings in available testing platforms, and raising concerns about overdiagnosis and overtreatment. The final commentary challenges the risks of undue parental anxiety and vulnerable child syndrome as a barrier to screening, instead considering cCMV screening as a controlled opportunity to understand and support the experiences of affected children and their families.

You do not currently have access to this content.