Senate enacts Sen. Breen bill to protect children against potentially debilitating CMV

Posted: April 25, 2022 | Senator Breen, Senator Breen

AUGUSTA — On Monday, the Maine Senate voted unanimously to enact a bill from Sen. Cathy Breen, D-Falmouth. LD 1747, “An Act To Require Screening for Cytomegalovirus in Certain Newborn Infants,” would provide testing for Cytomegalovirus (CMV) in newborns and educate parents on the dangers of CMV.

Sen. Cathy Breen, D-Falmouth, with Laura Sweet, of Cumberland, in the Senate Chamber.

“One of the strongest supporters of this bill has been one of my constituents, Laura Sweet, whose family has been impacted by CMV. I’m so happy that she was here in the State House to witness this important bill being enacted by the Legislature. CMV is a little-known, but preventable, virus. By passing this bill, we’re ensuring more Maine kids can be screened and treated for this virus, and can grow up without preventable disabilities and health complications,” said Sen. Breen. 

LD 1747, would require the state of Maine to test every infant born in Maine for CMV if they fail two hearing tests, a reliable indicator of the presence of CMV. The bill also mandates a CMV test if the newborn displays other factors that indicate a strong possibility of CMV. And it directs the Department of Health and Human Services to educate pregnant people on the risks of CMV, to let expecting parents know what to look for, and to increase basic and attainable prevention efforts statewide. As amended by the HHS Committee, LD 1747 will require the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop a CMV screening program through the rulemaking process that includes a gradual expansion from targeted newborn testing to universal testing. It also directs CDC to work with stakeholders to develop the educational program.

According to the U.S. CDC, CMV is a common virus that infects people of all ages. Over half of adults have been infected with CMV by age 40. Most people infected with CMV show no signs or symptoms. One out of every 200 babies is born with CMV, and about one in five of those will have long-term health problems. These problems can include severe hearing loss or deafness, developmental delay, vision loss and seizures. Thirteen other states have passed laws addressing CMV. 

LD 1747 now goes to the desk of Gov. Janet Mills, who has 10 days to either sign the bill, veto it, or allow it to become law without her signature.