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Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2006 Feb;70(2):235-40. Epub 2005 Aug 8.

Ten-year outcome of newborn hearing screening in Austria.

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Clinical Department of Hearing, Voice and Speech Disorders, Innsbruck Medical University, Austria.



Current health care standards recommend that congenital hearing loss be confirmed before age three months and intervened for before age six months. This study evaluated to what extent the Austrian universal neonatal hearing screening (UNHS) program achieves this goal. The Austrian UNHS program is a hospital-based, two-stage screen based on transient oto-acoustic emissions, as promoted in 1995 in a position paper of the Austrian ENT Society.


Retrospective chart review and data analysis. All Austrian institutions engaged in the diagnosis and treatment of childhood hearing loss were requested to provide their data on children with permanent congenital sensorineural hearing impairment registered since 1990. Children who had undergone hearing screening, were compared to those who had not. Main outcome measures were age at confirmation of and age at intervention for the hearing loss. In each group, the percentage of children, whose hearing loss was confirmed by age three months, and intervened for by age six months, was determined.


Data from 321 hearing-impaired children were useable. Of these children, 167 were screened and 154 were not. At age three months, a hearing loss was diagnosed in 35% of screened children, but in only 2% of unscreened. These percentages rose to 69% and 6%, respectively, at age six months and to 81% and 12%, respectively, at age one year. Intervention mostly started within less than one month after diagnosis. At age six months, 61% of screened children, but only 4% of unscreened children, had undergone intervention.


Hearing screening enormously increases the number of early-detected children. However, in quite a few screened children hearing loss is neither confirmed within three months after birth, nor intervened for within six months after birth. Reasons for the delay must be paid attention in order to warrant that UNHS can be as effective as possible.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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