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June 04, 2007

Hearing screening for newborns in Mexico

All newborns will undergo hearing screening within the first 24 hours of life in order to detect and treat hearing loss as early as possible.

The program uses the otoacoustic emission test that has been proven to be reliable for hearing loss detection in children. A tiny microphone is placed in the baby's ear. Sounds are transmitted into the cochlea in the inner ear, and the echo of the cochlear is recorded. It is a sign of hearing loss when no echo is found.

It is estimated that up to 10 million people in Mexico are hearing impaired. At the current Mexican population growth rate 4,000 new cases of hearing loss appear among newborns in Mexico every year, according to several studies and World Health Organization data.

Early detection of hearing loss in children is crucial. A hearing impaired child should be treated within the first six months of age in order to develop language and speech like children with normal hearing.

This national program was made possible through a modification of the general health law in Mexico, establishing hearing loss detection as a primary health care service.

Sources:, January 18, 2007 and, Hospital General de Mexico.

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