A new national infant hearing screening programme is being tested in Denmark. DKK 15 million per year for the next two years was made available for the test programme in the most recent Danish budget bill, passed in November, 2003.
The new screening programme is designed to provide early detection of congenital hearing disorders in order to promote the best possible, i.e. early, treatment.
The improved screening of newborns puts Denmark on a par with countries, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, who provide screening on a national basis.
HÃ¸rehÃ¦mmede BÃ¸rns ForÃ¦ldreforening, the Danish Association of Parents of Hearing Impaired Children, welcomes the allocation of funds for the new Danish effort.
"It hurts the children when their hearing loss goes undetected early on. It affects their speech development, their learning ability and, not least, their social interaction with other children," said Jan Olesen, the association chairman, to the newspaper Ã…rhus Stiftstidende.
Screening of newborns saves money in the long run. Early detection of a hearing loss allows for the development of normal speech, reducing the cost of speech therapy and special education, among many other positive consequences.
Surveys have shown that hearing impaired children who receive their first hearing aid by the age of six months may develop normal speech. Up until now, the average age for the detection of congenital hearing loss has been two years.
During the two year test programme, infant hearing screening will be offered nationally. The efficacy of the programme will subsequently be evaluated.
Source: Aftale om Finansloven for 2004, Danish Ministry of Finance and Ã…rhus Stifttidende, 12.11.2003
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