Pooling Saliva Sample as an Effective Strategy for the Systematic CMV Screening of Newborns-A Multicentric Prospective Study

Maria-Jesus Chasqueira, Catarina Fernandez, Augusta Marques, Lucia Rodrigues, Mónica Marçal, Madalena Tuna, Monica Braz, Ana S Neto, Candida Mendes, David Lito, Gabriela Vasconcellos, Paula Rocha, Gonçalo Cassiano, Pedro Silva, Luísa Monteiro, Ana Sequeira, Maria Favila Menezes, Margarida Albuquerque, Maria José Rego de Sousa, Paulo Paixão

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BACKGROUND: Cytomegalovirus is the most common cause of congenital infections worldwide. Screening all newborns in the first 2 weeks of life is the only way to detect all cases of congenital infection, allowing the monitoring of children with asymptomatic infection at birth and early intervention.

AIM: In this multicenter study, we aimed to evaluate the feasibility of using a saliva pool strategy for mass screening in 7 Portuguese hospitals, and to estimate the current prevalence of this congenital infection in these hospitals.

METHODS: A total of 7033 newborns were screened between June 2020 and June 2022, and 704 pools of 10 saliva samples were analyzed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR).

RESULTS: Of the 704 pools analyzed, 685 were negative and 19 had positive PCR results for cytomegalovirus. After individual PCR testing, 26 newborns had positive saliva results, of which 15 were confirmed by urine testing. Thus, this study's prevalence of congenital infection was 0.21% (95% confidence interval: 0.12%-0.35%).

CONCLUSIONS: In this study, the pooling strategy proved to be effective for the systematic screening of newborns, although this low prevalence raises questions regarding the cost-effectiveness of implementing universal screening. However, this prevalence is probably the result of the control measures taken during the pandemic; therefore, the rates are expected to return to prepandemic values, but only a new study after the pandemic will be able to confirm this.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1117-1120
JournalThe Pediatric infectious disease journal
Issue number12
Early online date12 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2023


  • CMV
  • congenital
  • screening
  • pool


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