New law to protect newborns from specific birth defect goes into effect Jan. 1

New law to protect newborns goes into effect Jan. 1. (WJXT)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A new health screening law for newborns is going into effect Jan. 1.

According to Local 10′s Jacksonville news partner WJXT, Florida hospitals and birthing facilities must test newborns for congenital cytomegalovirus, also known as CMV, according to a new Florida law.

They must be tested if the infant fails a hearing test.

CMV is the most common infectious cause of birth defects in the United States.

About 1 out of 200 babies are born with congenital CMV, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Asia McKnight, a mother of two, said she had never heard of CMV, despite having a 6-year-old daughter and 10-month-old baby boy.

“It’s pretty shocking. I mean I’ve heard about other things, but this is my first time hearing about this and for it to sound so severe, it’s pretty shocking,” McKnight said.

CMV can cause long-term health effects in babies, like hearing loss, vision loss, intellectual disability, lack of coordination, and seizures.

Under State Bill 292, all newborns must be tested for CMV before they’re 21 days old or before they’re discharged from the hospital or state birthing facility if they fail a hearing test.

The goal of early testing is to prevent long-term health problems.

“I think it’s always good, especially as a mom, to know what your child could potentially be exposed to or they may have and to stay up to date and know about these things,” McKnight said.

This new bill also applies to at-home births and birthing centers.

A primary care doctor must refer a child if they fall under the guidelines.

All screening tests must be reported to the Department of Health within a week.

About the Author:

This native of the Big Apple joined the News4Jax team in July 2021.