Pre-natal test can find virus that affects 1,000 babies a year


A test taken in the first term of pregnancy can be used to detect a virus that causes deafness and other developmental difficulties, Dutch researchers have found.

The CMV virus, a species of herpes, affects around 1,000 newborn children a year, 180 of whom have long-term deficiencies, often related to their hearing. In exceptional cases it can cause the death of the foetus in the womb.

Researcher Brigitte Faas and a team at Radboudumc teaching hospital in Nijmegen investigated whether the virus could be identified from the NIPT prenatal screening test, which checks for the chromosome disorders Down’s syndrome, Edwards’ syndrome and Patau’s syndrome.

Until recently no treatment was available for the CMV virus, but antiviral medicines have recently been developed that could prevent pregnant women passing it on to their unborn children.

Faas said more research needed to be done before screening for the virus could be included in the NIPT test.

“We’d really like to set up a large-scale national investigation to so that we can measure the effect of antiviral medicines,” she said.

A follow-up study in partnership with the public health agency RIVM would also see if there are alternative ways to test the 40% of women who do not opt for the NIPT scan.

Thank you for donating to

We could not provide the Dutch News service, and keep it free of charge, without the generous support of our readers. Your donations allow us to report on issues you tell us matter, and provide you with a summary of the most important Dutch news each day.

Make a donation