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June 26, 2006

Hearing screening programme for newborns at risk

Promoting support for children with hearing loss, the Chilean Ministry of Health has implemented a hearing screening programme for the early detection of hearing loss in newborns at special risk.

It is estimated that 1 child in 1000 is born with severe hearing loss and another 1 in 1000 is born with moderate hearing loss.

The current hearing screening programme targets only newborns at risk. These include newborns whose weight at birth is less than 1500 grams, those with a family history of deafness and hearing loss, newborns with congenital infections, and newborns with some other risk factors.

Children who fail the hearing screening test will be thoroughly monitored and will undergo a second test before the age of three months. If the hearing loss diagnosis is confirmed, they will receive appropriate treatment, such as hearing aids or surgery by the age of six months.

Approximately 50 percent of all newborns in Chile are covered by this programme.

“Ideally, in the future this programme will be expanded to cover all children, as is already the case in some private hospitals in this country”, said Corina Farfan of the University of Chile.

Numerous studies have shown that hearing impaired children receiving adequate and early treatment develop normal language ability.

Source: www.med.uchile.cl

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