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January 24, 2013

Goals for the hearing screening of infants are not being complied with

Too few Danish children with hearing loss are diagnosed in time, a study shows.

Goals for the hearing screening of infants are not being complied with

A study of hearing screenings in Denmark shows that the Danish health authorities' recommended deadlines for hearing screenings are not being complied with. The Danish health authorities recommend that a hearing test should be carried out within 30 days of birth and that children with a probable hearing loss should be diagnosed before the child reaches the age of three months.

However, these guidelines for a deadline for the completion of a diagnosis are only complied with in 45% of cases. This is a fall of 44% since 2006, in which nine-out-of-ten were diagnosed at three months after birth at the latest. Only 20% of the places which carry out such screenings have guidelines which say that the first screenings should be carried out within 10 days.

Incorrect measurement

The method of measurement is also at odds with the Danish authorities recommendations. The authorities recommend that the first hearing screening should always be followed by an Automated Auditory Brainstem Response (AABR), if the child needs to be rescreened. This occurs in only 20% of cases. Instead, another method, Transient Evoked OtoAcoustic Emissions (TEOAE), is employed for rescreening.

Finally, the study shows that information about such screenings is only given at or just after birth. To ensure that parents are aware of the possibility of hearing screening and so as to screen as many children as possible, it is suggested that the information be given a month before the planned birth date.

A short screening process

A short screening period is important, as it optimises the possibility of the early diagnosis and treatment of children with congenital hearing loss. At the same time, it ensures the clarification of false positive test results which can cause unnecessary worry in parents.

The study was carried out by Christina Degn and Maria Baltzer Gormsen, both MAs and audio and speech therapists.

Source: AudioInfos Norden nr. 16, 2012

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