Sen. Breen pursues policy to screen babies for CMV

Posted: March 13, 2017 | Health and Human Services, Sen. Breen

AUGUSTA — Sen. Cathy Breen, D-Falmouth, introduced a bill in February to require testing for Cytomegalovirus (CMV) in all newborns in Maine. This legislation has resulted in the formation of a study group, led by the Maine Centers for Disease Control and Maine Medical Association, to provide recommendations on how to educate medical professionals and parents to improve prevention and treatment.

CMV is a viral infection that occurs during pregnancy and affects 20,000 to 80,000 children, at least 20% of whom develop serious disabilities, such as microcephaly or deafness. Four hundred children die from CMV annually.

In her testimony to the Committee on Health and Human Services in support of the bill, “An Act To Require Screening for Cytomegalovirus in Newborn Infants,” Sen. Breen stressed the need for raising awareness about CMV.

“One of our jobs as legislators is to take up this kind of challenge from our community and amplify it in order to prevent further harm,” said Sen. Breen. “And, as a member of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, I am keenly focused on how to use our limited resources in ways that benefit the most at the smallest cost.”

Sen. Breen was inspired to introduce the legislation by the story of her constituent, Laura Sweet, whose story of raising a child with CMV was published in a New York Times article in 2016. Ms. Sweet’s daughter, Jane, has received cochlear implants after becoming deaf in her first year of life due to in utero CMV infection.

“Like me, most people do not even realize they have been infected with CMV,” said Ms. Sweet.  “I had a seemingly normal full-term pregnancy with Jane, and she appeared a perfectly healthy, thriving newborn. Little did we know, I likely contracted CMV for the first time while pregnant and passed the virus in utero to Jane, causing damage to her brain, one of her eyes, and her hearing.”


Breen CMV hearing

Joe & Laura Sweet of Cumberland, Sen. Cathy Breen, Danielle Mesich of Portland, and Sean Wilkinson of Portland after the hearing.