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Singapore Med J. 2006 Jan;47(1):60-4.

Newborn hearing screening: experience in a Malaysian hospital.

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Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Jalan Yaakub Latif, 56000 Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.



This study aims to determine the prevalence of hearing loss among newborns delivered at Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and to evaluate the usefulness of our hearing screening protocol.


All infants born in the hospital over a nine-month period, between April to December 2003, were screened for hearing loss with a portable otoacoustic emission (OAE) before discharge. At the age of two months, a second OAE test was repeated on newborns who failed the initial test. Those who failed the second test were re-tested at three months of age. When these infants failed the third OAE test, a brainstem evoked response (BSER) test was performed.


During the study period, 4,219 infants were born in the hospital, and 3,762 (89.2 percent) underwent OAE screening. 620 (19.7 percent) of them failed the first screening test, and 506 (81.6 percent) of them came for a second stage-screening test. In the third stage screening at three months of age, only 39 (65 percent) patients turned up. Of these, ten infants passed the OAE test and 29 failed. However, when these infants underwent BSER, 13 had normal BSER and 16 have abnormal BSER. The prevalence of hearing loss in this study was 0.42 percent (16/3,762).


The large number of defaulters and false-positive results in this study suggest that this pilot hearing-screen programme requires fine-tuning to minimise these problems.

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