BACKGROUND The treatment of symptomatic congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) disease with intravenous ganciclovir for 6 weeks has been shown to improve audiologic outcomes at 6 months, but the benefits wane over time. METHODS We conducted a randomized, placebo-controlled trial of valganciclovir therapy in neonates with symptomatic congenital CMV disease, comparing 6 months of therapy with 6 weeks of therapy. The primary end point was the change in hearing in the better ear ("best-ear" hearing) from baseline to 6 months. Secondary end points included the change in hearing from baseline to follow-up at 12 and 24 months and neurodevelopmental outcomes, with each end point adjusted for central nervous system involvement at baseline. RESULTS A total of 96 neonates underwent randomization, of whom 86 had follow-up data at 6 months that could be evaluated. Best-ear hearing at 6 months was similar in the 6-month group and the 6-week group (2 and 3 participants, respectively, had improvement; 36 and 37 had no change; and 5 and 3 had worsening; P = 0.41). Totalear hearing (hearing in one or both ears that could be evaluated) was more likely to be improved or to remain normal at 12 months in the 6-month group than in the 6-week group (73% vs. 57%, P = 0.01). The benefit in total-ear hearing was maintained at 24 months (77% vs. 64%, P = 0.04). At 24 months, the 6-month group, as compared with the 6-week group, had better neurodevelopmental scores on the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development, third edition, on the language-composite component (P = 0.004) and on the receptive-communication scale (P = 0.003). Grade 3 or 4 neutropenia occurred in 19% of the participants during the first 6 weeks. During the next 4.5 months of the study, grade 3 or 4 neutropenia occurred in 21% of the participants in the 6-month group and in 27% of those in the 6-week group (P = 0.64). CONCLUSIONS Treating symptomatic congenital CMV disease with valganciclovir for 6 months, as compared with 6 weeks, did not improve hearing in the short term but appeared to improve hearing and developmental outcomes modestly in the longer term.
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