Newborn screening cuts referral times by over two years

THE TIME taken for detection of hearing loss in babies and follow-up intervention has been cut from 30 months to less than three months since the introduction of a newborn hearing screening programme at Cork University Maternity Hospital a year ago.

More than 8,000 babies have been scanned at the Cork hospital since the programme started in April 2011; of those, 100 were referred for diagnostic assessment.

All babies confirmed with hearing loss were helped or referred for surgical intervention within three months of birth.

Cork University Maternity Hospital was the first hospital in Ireland to implement the national newborn hearing screening programme, which is also now available in St Luke’s General Hospital, Kilkenny, South Tipperary General Hospital, Clonmel, Waterford Regional Hospital and Wexford General Hospital.

The programme is due to be extended to other maternity hospitals in the Republic.

In Ireland, one to two babies in every 1,000 are born with a hearing loss – the majority to families with no history of impaired hearing.

The sooner the problem is identified, the better the outcome will be for those babies’ development of language and communication skills.

In the absence of newborn screening, babies in Ireland do not have their hearing routinely tested until they are nine months old.

The inaccuracy of the so-called “distraction test” used at this stage means higher numbers of children without a problem are referred for further testing, while some with hearing loss are missed out.

The screening service at Cork University Maternity Hospital uses a combination of medical equipment and information technology (IT) that was put in place by Northgate, which works with the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK where there is universal newborn screening for hearing loss.

If you have any questions about this or any hearing issue contact Hidden Hearing at 1800 370000 or online Hidden Hearing.


Source: Irish Times Read More>

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