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In Europe, congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection is the leading cause of neurological disabilities in children, causing severe sequelae such as sensorineural hearing loss, neurodevelopmental delay or blindness. The infection causes high disease burden and costs. Nevertheless, there is little awareness of CMV among medical officials and the general public. Although the individual risk of congenital CMV infection is greatest from a primary infection of the mother during pregnancy, maternal non-primary infections also account for a substantial disease burden associated with congenital CMV. Screening programmes for pregnant women and newborns are widely discussed, but have not been implemented by any public health authority in Europe so far. This article gives an overview about a variety of European and other relevant studies regarding CMV seroprevalence, congenital CMV infection and disease as well as screening strategies and preventive approaches.


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