Newborn hearing screening begins today

Up to two babies in every 1,000 are born with a hearing loss in one or both ears

From today, all babies born at Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) will be offered a free hearing screening test prior to their discharge from hospital.

CUMH is the first hospital in the country to implement the new National Hearing Screening Programme. Until now, a baby’s hearing has not generally been tested until their seven-to-nine month development check.

Currently in Ireland, one to two babies in every 1,000 are born with a hearing loss in one or both ears.

“The earlier that a hearing loss can be picked up in a baby, the better the outcome that baby will have. It is therefore very important to screen all babies at an early stage. Most babies born with a hearing loss are born into families with no history of hearing loss,” explained consultant ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeon, Mr Peter O’Sullivan, who is also chairperson of the Cork Newborn Hearing Screening Implementation Group.

The test is available free of charge for all babies. Any baby who does not have a clear response in one or both ears from the test will be sent for a full audiological (hearing) assessment at an audiology clinic in Cork University Hospital (CUH) shortly after discharge.

The hearing test will be carried out by a trained hearing screener while the baby is settled or sleeping, usually at the mother’s bedside. The screener uses two non-invasive tests to screen the newborns’ hearing. Neither test causes any discomfort to the baby.

According to CUMH consultant neonatologist, Dr Brendan Paul Murphy, this new screening programme aims to identify hearing impairment as soon as possible after birth ‘to give babies a better chance of developing speech and language skills and to make the most of social and emotional interaction from an early age’.

“We now have a programme in place to deliver this to all our newborns. Babies who spend time in a special care baby unit have a higher incidence of hearing loss. These babies will be tested during their time in the unit,” Dr Murphy explained.

The referral rates for babies to the HSE audiology clinic who fail the test is expected to be relatively low – about 2-4% of all babies tested. The referral does not necessarily mean that a baby has or will have a hearing loss. It could also be due to a number of other factors, including:

-The baby may have been too unsettled at the time of the screening test
-The baby may have had fluid, or a temporary blockage, in the ears after the birth
-There may have been too much background noise in the room when the screening test was carried out.

Babies born through the HSE’s homebirths scheme will also be included in the programme. Arrangements are in place to have their hearing tested at an outpatients clinic at the hospital within weeks of the babies’ birth.

Meanwhile, according to the CEO of CUH, Tony McNamara, this programme will benefit both babies and their parents.

“Parents benefit from knowing their child has a hearing loss early as they are empowered to make informed choices and get the support they need. Early identification of hearing loss, followed by good support from health, education and social care can dramatically improve the child’s language and communication, leading to better educational outcomes,” he explained.

The introduction of a newborn hearing screening test was just one of a number of recommendations made by the National Audiology Review Group. Its report, the HSE National Audiology Review, which was published earlier this month, was highly critical of many aspects of audiological services in Ireland. For more on that report, click here

The importance of wearing day to day hearing protection

For a lot of day to day work hearing protection should be worn

Six in 10 Australians risk hearing damage because they don’t wear ear protection while mowing the lawn, a new survey shows.

The survey of 2500 people by independent consumer ratings agency Canstar Blue showed 58 per cent of those surveyed choose not to wear ear plugs or ear muffs when using their lawn mower.

The Baby Boomer generation are most likely to risk noise-induced hearing loss, with 60 per cent not wearing hearing protection, compared to 59 per cent of Generation X and 48 per cent of Generation Y respondents.

“This is particularly concerning given the Baby Boomer generation are more vulnerable to hearing damage because of their age,” said Steve Mickenbecker, head of research at parent company Canstar Cannex.

“These findings are particularly concerning as permanent hearing damage can occur after only one hour of unprotected exposure to noise this loud.”

Endeavour College of Natural Health director of education Dr Nicholas Vardaxis said this type of neglect can result in permanent hearing loss.

“This type of damage is entirely preventable and there is no excuse,” Dr Vardaxis said on Wednesday.

“Australians need to be more vigilant and make sure they are using ear plugs or ear muffs each and every time they mow the lawn.

Baby Boomers Suffer Higher Percentage of Hearing Loss

Health officials say as much as 40 percent of baby boomers are suffering hearing loss.

“Your hearing appears stable, but you have suffered a mild to moderate hearing loss,”Director of Audiology Karen Mitchell said.

Mitchell is performing a checkup exam on 50-year-old Jay Blakeslee at the Columbus Speech and Hearing Center.

In fact, Blakeslee’s hearing loss is about 40 percent. He has worn hearing aids since his early 40s.

Blakeslee admits he spent his young adult days living in a loud world.

He said he played his cassette tapes on his Walkman and he played them loudly.

I had a roommate that loved to throw firecrackers into the bathroom when I was in there. It was very loud, and he did it a number of times,” Blakeslee said.

Blakeslee is not alone.

Health officials say as much as 40 percent of baby boomers are suffering hearing loss.

Dr. Mitchell said she has seen a definite spike among baby boomers during her 30 years at center.

A study between 1970 and 1991 showed 26 percent more people in the boomer-age range had hearing lossin ’91 compared to 1970. Boomers were the first to grow up with high-volume recreational noise exposure from concerts, blasting stereos, walkmans that we could crank up or other loud pastimes such as car races,Mitchell said.

The study was completed before iPods, MP3 players and the close-to-the-eardrum earbud headphones that are now standard equipment.

“They can produce a lot of sound pressure directly on the eardrum and into the inner ear. When you are using these devices for an extended amount of time above 95 decibels, damage can occur. It’s a cumulative effect, and once you have hearing loss due to noise exposure, that hearing loss is permanent,” Mitchell said.

You can purchase earbuds that will automatically control the volume.

Mitchell said there are three simple things you and your teens can do to protect your hearing: Back away from loud noise, turn it down and wear ear protection.

Mitchell said keeping your MP3 player turned up only halfway probably will keep the volume to a nondamaging level for extended use.

May is National Speech and Hearing Month, and the Columbus Speech and Hearing Center will offer free volume checks for people who use MP3 players.

For further information check Hidden Hearing



Thursday 14th April 2011: Hidden Hearing, Ireland’s leading provider of hearing healthcare today offered free hearing tests to all adults waiting for assessment through the HSE.  The ‘National Audiology Review’ published yesterday by the HSE estimates that 10,211 adults are languishing on community-based audiology waiting lists.  Hidden Hearing already provides over 30,000 free full hearing evaluations through its network of 63 branches and clinics nationwide, as well as a further 8,700 free hearing screenings through its mobile clinic which travels to 300 locations around the country annually.

“There is no need for people to be waiting so long for what is a relatively straightforward hearing assessment.  Hidden Hearing, has been offering this free service for 25 years and we would be delighted to assist anyone in the country who feels they need a test.  Our audiologists are fully qualified to the highest international standards and we will provide you with a full report very quickly – at absolutely no obligation.  People wait too long before getting a hearing issue examined, with adults delaying taking action for up to 15 years, so to have to wait any longer is most unsatisfactory”, said Medical Consultant to Hidden Hearing, Dr. Nina Byrnes.

She said that for adults in particular, the longer people wait to seek treatment, the longer the rehabilitation process can take.

Dr Byrnes said that among the 10,211 adults waiting for hearing assessments that it was likely that many people would not need hearing aids or further treatment and those people would be put at ease.  Anyone who required further steps would be advised of the options available to them.  Hidden Hearing’s services are fully recognised by the Department of Social Protection and people can avail of their PRSI entitlements in purchasing any hearing aids.

Dr Nina Byrnes Medical Consultant with Hidden Hearing

“The most important thing is that people do not sit back, wait and do nothing.  Hearing loss has a hugely detrimental impact on quality of life, with people feeling isolated, embarrassed and withdrawing from social interaction.  We would appeal to anyone who is worried about themselves, or a family member or friend to come and avail of our free test – they will feel a whole lot better afterwards”, said Dr. Byrnes.

Hidden Hearing has regularly highlighted that a lack of audiology training in Ireland was a serious issue in the provision of public services and the company has been arguing for many years that there needs to be a dedicated course in Ireland.   In the absence of such a course Hidden Hearing is committed to raising standards in the sector and its audiologists are trained to the highest international standards, many through the British Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists, and are members of the Irish Hearing Society (IHS) or Irish Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists (ISHAA).

Hidden Hearing invests €250,000 annually in Continuous Professional Development for staff and a further €200,000 on new audiometry and testing equipment.  Hidden Hearing was also instrumental in setting up an audiology course for dispensers in Ireland with Anglia Ruskin University in the UK and it is hoping to establish a similar course in Ireland through a university or private college.

Hidden Hearing Mobile Clinic

Anyone wishing to avail of a free hearing test through Hidden Hearing should call 1800 370 000 or visit to see where the mobile clinic will be in attendance.

Digital Hearing Aids for the modern age

It’s well known that when you can not read the fine print more, we get glasses. We call the dentist when you have a toothache and we have never hesitated to seek care from a doctor with a broken bone. However, once we begin to lose our hearing, our solution is simply to increase the TV volume until nobody can hear anything but the noise of our television speakers on all audible sounds.


Why do we refuse to use hearing aids? The National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders believe that twenty-eight million people are deaf. Hearing aids can help a wide range of issues canal. These new hearing aids are not the clumsy, the size of transistor radio with son dangling your grandparents wore, digital technology has made computers available to everyone now has been applied to improving hearing aids. Digital hearing aids use a computer chip with a small battery, a microphone and a receiver and are very easy to adjust to the needs of the user. You can more easily hide or conceal your hearing aid, and you can get it perfectly calibrated to your specific level of hearing. Like snowflakes, no two are exactly alike hearing impairment. For many people their problem is to distinguish the sounds down, but others will find it’s the higher frequencies they can not hear. Because of the inability to hear the different sound frequencies. Many people end up missing some words in normal conversation and continue to fulfill their white spots. Others simply a matter of volume. which is often the culprit behind the constant requests to “speak up” or “increase the volume.” Using a series of hearing tests, an audiologist can understand exactly what the adjustment of a hearing aid may need. They also recommend that people go for a test every year after that it might have some hearing loss. Hearing experts are available in three levels. The highest level is the otolaryngologist or ear, nose and throat. He is trained to diagnose and treat hearing disorders caused by medical conditions. A master’s degree is a minimum requirement for audiologists, while being allowed by the state they work in hearing aid do not need this high a level of education, but must still be certified by the State . More often, they are like traditional sellers and generally have an association with an individual hearing aid manufacturer. There are currently four types of hearing aids available. “Completely in the canal” hearing aids are smaller and more discreet. They are also the most expensive. They are most often used for patients who have severe to profound hearing loss issues. Then there are the “in channel” devices. Although they are slightly larger than those just mentioned, they are still hidden away in the ear canal. These hearing aids require a channel battery a little bigger, and are recommended for mild to moderate cases of hearing loss. Then you have the “in ear” hearing aids. These can be viewed by people around the carrier, and are designed to treat a wide range of hearing disorders. “Behind the ear” hearing aids just go behind the ear, but they are large and require a huge battery, but they are most effective in noise amplification. You can still get analog hearing aids at low cost, but we must understand that they do not have the advanced technology of newer versions. There are several other facts you should know about the hearing. The cause is either an obstacle to the ear, or an illness or injury to the ear. About 95 percent of people with hearing problems can have their hearing loss corrected with hearing aids. In addition, among the younger generations, the statistics of hearing loss are increasing. For further information contact: Hidden Hearing

Modern Digital Hearing Aids are discreet

A new test for inner ear dead regions causing deafness

Do you struggle to hear properly, even with hearing aids fitted? If you are one of the two million people in the UK who uses a hearing aid and still struggles to hear, hope may be on the horizon. A pioneering new project funded by Deafness Research UK is leading to a greater understanding of why hearing aids do not work for everyone as well as they should. The project is developing a new test for the hard of hearing via the latest research – exposing the secrets of dead regions of the cochlea.

Hearing impairment is often associated with damage to the hair cells of the cochlea (inner ear) and an area of the cochlea with complete loss of function is known as a ‘dead region’. People are often under the impression that hearing aids can ‘restore’ hearing, when in fact they can only ‘aid’ those areas not yet ‘dead’ and are only effective if they are tuned and programmed to compensate precisely for a wearer’s pattern of hearing loss.

Unfortunately, current hearing tests can often miss these dead regions, leading to people receiving hearing aids that amplify sounds at frequencies where the amplification provides no benefit, or in some cases, can even make their hearing worse. New research led by Brian Moore, Professor of Auditory Perception at the University of Cambridge and his group, including Professor Aleksander Sek, has led to the development of a rapid clinical test for detecting the presence of these dead regions – known as the ‘Psychophysical Tuning Curves’ (PTC) test. Funded by Deafness Research UK, Professor Moore and Professor Sek have developed a new PTC test capable of measuring the extent of these dead regions much more precisely than previously possible with existing tests. Developed as a computer program, this PTC test can run on any personal computer (with a good quality sound card and headphones), making it ready to use in the clinic immediately.

“Professor Moore’s work is vital in that it is leading to tangible benefits for those people who rely on hearing aids right now,” said Vivienne Michael, Chief Executive of Deafness Research UK. “Funding the development of tests of auditory function such as this that have a clinically applicable element is an important part of our work and thanks to the new PTC test, many more people who rely on hearing aids are going to benefit from enhanced performance and enhanced hearing ability.”

“This research gives us access to more accurate information about individual patterns of hearing loss at different frequencies and about the extent of dead regions, in turn enabling better fitting of hearing aids,” explained Professor Moore. “For example, if two people have the same audiogram, but one has dead regions, that person’s hearing aids will need to be programmed differently.”

The software for the PTC test is being made free to download from the website of the hearing group at Cambridge: and a paper describing the software implementation of the test has been published in the respected International Journal of Audiology. Dr Ross Roeser, editor in chief of the journal, commented in an editorial that the test: “Represents a significant new opportunity for audiologists and hearing scientists to gain valuable knowledge of basic physiological processing of the auditory system, and potentially how to serve those with hearing impairment” and added: “What a great opportunity for IJA readers to be able to have this valuable information at their fingertips through innovative electronic media”.

Research shows that one in seven of the UK population, or nine million people have noticeable hearing loss and of these, some two million use hearing aids. It is estimated that double this number – four million people – could benefit from using a hearing aid, so in addition to providing grants for clinical projects like PTC tests, Deafness Research UK continues its mission to inform people about the dangers of noise-induced hearing loss – from its innovative Bionic Ear Show, to information leaflets and advice.

For more information, visit


Miley Cyrus in Listen Carefully Campaign

Miley Cyrus in the USA "Listen Carefully" campaign

Did you know there’s been a startling rise in hearing loss among teens? A 31% increase over the last decade to be exact these figures are from the USA.  The USA based Listen Carefully campaign kicks-off with a series of public service ads with a clear message –“your hearing is fragile, so don’t listen loudly, listen carefully.” In addition, the campaign will include digital media activities and the Starkey Hearing Foundation Listen Carefully Sweepstakes with recording artist and actress Miley Cyrus, who is also making an appearance in some of campaign ads.

Beginning April 4 through June 15, 2011, Miley Cyrus fans can enter the sweepstakes for a chance to win a “listening experience” with the famous singer and actress during a soundcheck, as she prepares for her performance at the Starkey Hearing Foundation’s Annual Awards Gala on July 24 in Minneapolis, which the winner will also have an opportunity to attend, along with a guest.

“As an artist, I want to make sure fans are able to experience the magic of music as it was intended,”said Cyrus. “By just lowering the volume and using the right protection for your ears, hearing loss can be prevented, which means never losing the ability to enjoy the sound of a guitar, a beautiful lyric or a favorite song.”

Miley Cyrus first became involved with the Starkey Hearing Foundation during a recent trip to Haiti, where she joined the Foundation on a mission to distribute hearing aids to those in need. During the trip, Miley learned about the Listen Carefully campaign and was quick to jump on board to lend her support.

”With 6.5 million teens recognized with some level of hearing loss, and those numbers growing, it is important that we put information and tools in the hands of parents and young people on how one’s hearing is fragile and needs to be protected from the amped up volumes of the personal hearing devices that are prevalent today,” said Bill Austin, Chief Executive Officer of Starkey Laboratories and Founder of the Starkey Hearing Foundation. “The majority of teen hearing loss is preventable, and it is our hope that the Listen Carefully campaign, with support from entertainers like Miley Cyrus, can make a difference.”

According to the Starkey Hearing Foundation, loud sounds such as music pumping through headphones and ear buds at too high a volume, have the ability to destroy the tiny hair cells in the inner ear over time. These tiny hair cells are essential in converting sound waves into messages and nerve impulses that are sent to the brain as sounds. If just 30 percent of these hair cells are damaged or destroyed, one will experience hearing loss.

For more information on hearing loss visit