Hearing in newborns: Early testing recommended

Universal newborn screening for congenital hearing loss is feasible in the context of mandated state programs involving large numbers of hospitals, according to a study in the January 2002 issue of Pediatrics electronic pages.

The study of more than 148,000 infants born at 60 Colorado hospitals demonstrates that those with hearing loss can reliably be identified in the first few months of life. Prompt identification provides families with the opportunity for improved outcomes through early amplification using hearing aids and early language intervention.

Hearing loss is shown to affect one in every 650 newborns, a frequency far more common than newborn metabolic diseases detectable by blood testing. The study highlights the accuracy of newborn screening tests performed before hospital discharge, and the importance of timely follow-up testing for every infant who fails the initial screening.

American Academy of Pediatrics Press Release, January, 2002.

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