New state law impacting newborns and hospitals statewide

Posted at 7:15 PM, Jan 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-29 19:21:42-05

A new state law effective January 30 would require something called Cytomegalovirus or CMV testing in all newborns who fail a hearing screen.

The problem is that hospitals statewide still don’t have any direction from the state on the policy change.

“It's a good idea but it's more complicated than it might seem,” said Dr. Dennis Kuo, a physician with Oishei Children’s Hospital.

According to the American Academy of Clinical Chemistry, one in 150 babies is born with CMV. It's one of the leading causes of congenital hearing loss and deafness and can cause significant health issues in an infant's liver and kidneys.

Early detection can be key to a baby's sense of hearing. “If you can treat CMV, you might be able to improve hearing loss when they get older.”

Testing in infants requires a urine sample which can be tricky and take time. Kuo said it's unclear whether the hospital will have to collect a sample immediately or wait for a follow up visit.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the state department of health said in part , "The Department will be meeting with other states that have implemented screening programs, experts from the federal government and academia, and hospital representatives to inform the regulations needed to effectuate this law in New York."

7 Eyewitness News has also learned the state will not impose a penalty while it works out the details.

Officials like Kuo will wait for next steps. But, he said high quality care for all patients won't change even while the hospital waits for direction.