LSU Manship School News Service
BATON ROUGE – A bill that would, in certain circumstances, require newborns to get tested
for cytomegalovirus, or CMV, cleared another hurdle Wednesday as it advanced out of the
Senate Health and Welfare Committee.
House Bill 643, also known as “Journie’s Law,” requires newborns in Louisiana who fail their
hearing tests to be screened for CMV, a common virus that can lie dormant and be passed from
mother to child during pregnancy. It can have serious health implications for children if it goes
Rep. Dodie Horton, R-Bossier, the bill’s author, said a failed hearing test is an immediate sign an
infant may have the virus. The bill is named after one of Horton’s constituents, Journie, who was
not tested for the virus after failing her hearing test.
Journie is now blind, has cerebral palsy and needs to be fed with a feeding tube. Horton said
Journie could be walking and talking if the virus had been detected earlier.
“I don’t believe there’s a lot of education on it,” Horton said about the need to test for CMV.
Most babies who are infected before birth do not show signs of congenital CMV and may never
have related health problems. Those who do show signs of the virus at birth may have a low birth
weight, jaundice or seizures among other issues.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 40% to 60% of infants born with those
CMV signs will have long-term health implications such as hearing loss, vision loss, intellectual
disability, lack of coordination, seizure or a small head.
Seven states–Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, New York, Utah and Virginia–require CMV
testing in newborns who fail their hearing tests. There are currently no vaccines for the virus.