WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI)- The 2020 legislative session is just around the corner, and local representatives are already discussing what bills they plan to author. West Lafayette Representative Chris Campbell plans on authoring a bill that could help babies with their developmental functions.
According to the CDC, one out of every two hundred babies that are born is impacted by Cytomegalovirus or CMV. On top of that, one out of five children with CMV will develop hearing loss.
"This would provide an extra layer of identifying those babies,” said State Representative of District 26 Chris Campbell. “Cytomegalovirus is the leading cause of hearing loss in children."
CMV is a common virus that can affect anyone. Once infected your body retains the virus for life. Most people don't know they have CMV because it rarely causes problems for healthy people. However, it affects babies differently than fully grown adults.
"CMV has a large impact on developmental delays,” said Anne Sommer an audiologist and professor of Hearing Science at Purdue. “It can cause learning disabilities, hearing loss, it has potential for numerous other problems. CMV is a serious virus when it comes to infants. That’s why we need to treat it early and identify it early.”
Representative Campbell is an audiologist. Her bill would require that infants be tested for CMV before they leave the hospital. This would help audiologists determine what causes hearing loss since there aren't a lot of indicators pointing towards the cause.
"There is no easy answer as to what caused that hearing loss,” added Sommer. “Many times it is traced back to a likely viral infection but we don't really know for sure. Without this CMV swab within those first three weeks of life, we aren't able to confirm that it was the underlying cause of the hearing loss."
Audiologist say, the earlier hearing loss can be identified the better.
"Identifying a hearing loss before the age of 6 months and getting a hearing aid on that baby before six months is vital,” said Campbell. “That baby is very likely to develop normal speech and language just like a hearing baby.”
Other states that have passed similar legislation have been able to identify more children with hearing loss at an earlier age. Indiana Legislative session starts on January 6th.