Dr. Van Ramshorst: CMV Education and Outreach Important for Women

Testimony of the TMA, The Texas Academy of Family Physicians, and the Texas Pediatric Society

Senate Health and Human Services Committee
Senate Bill 791 by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst

March 18, 2015

Chair Schwertner and members of the committee, the Texas Medical Association, the Texas Academy of Family Physicians, and the Texas Pediatric Society are pleased to share comments today on Senate Bill 791 by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst. Our associations represent 48,000 physicians and medical student members who join you in your concern with ensuring parents have information and support so they can prepare and plan for a healthy birth outcome.

We recognize that while CMV is a very common virus, the general public is not aware of this —at least half of us will have CMV at some point by the time we are adults. Physicians have long recognized that CMV presents a special risk to women who are pregnant and to caregivers of infants because of the potential of exposure to CMV and for transmitting the virus to their fetus and infants who lack a developed immune system. 

While there is no recommendation for routine testing of pregnant women for CMV, we support some of the features of education and outreach campaign outlined in SB791 because it targets information for a population at higher risk of transmitting CMV. This is consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation that pregnant women should be informed about CMV. Both CDC and the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) have already developed very helpful materials and information for pregnant women as well as educational resources for physicians on CMV.

We have shared with the committee a letter from DSHS outlining its recent extensive efforts to improve education on this matter. We are encouraged that DSHS is already in the process of amending the state’s packet of educational materials (Information for Parents of Newborn Children) for parents to include information on CMV. This is a comprehensive packet of information that must be shared with parents when they leave a birthing facility after the birth of their newborn. We also encourage efforts to share this important information to prevent CMV transmission with teachers and other employees in child care centers with young infants.  

Physicians are concerned about language in SB791, which establishes a requirement for the birthing center to provide testing for CMV and refer an infant who fails their first newborn hearing screening. Physicians are already testing for CMV when there is a clinical indication or suspicion for disease. There are other indications for testing outside of a failed newborn hearing screening. The state should not dictate or outline standards of care in this instance.

In section 4, we would recommend referring patients to a physician to explore treatment options on CMV in lieu of having DSHS identify specific treatments. State rules and efforts will rarely be able to maintain the most current or appropriate information on treatment. Physicians who fail to offer specific types of treatment as identified in state rule could face potential liability risks, regardless of current or developing scientific evidence.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to share our concerns with this legislation, and we hope to work with the author and committee to advance public education on this harmful disease.

Last Updated On

June 17, 2016