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Pediatrics. 1998 Feb;101(2):221-8.

Universal infant hearing screening by automated auditory brainstem response measurement.

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Department of Audiology Services, Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Honolulu, Hawaii 96819, USA.



Our purpose was to identify infants with a bilateral, permanent, handicapping hearing loss and to provide them with amplification before age 6 months.


The study population consisted of 10,372 infants born during a 5-year period. Universal hearing screening by automated auditory brainstem response was done in the nursery. Infants who failed the screening test were followed up diagnostically. Infants who were not tested in the nursery were followed up as outpatients. Hearing aids were recommended for those infants who had bilateral hearing loss.


Successful screening in the nursery was achieved for 96% of infants. The failure rate was 4%. The incidence of bilateral loss requiring amplification was 1.4/1000. The false-positive rate was 3.5% after the initial screening and .2% when a two-stage screening procedure was used. The incidence of congenital bilateral hearing loss in the well population was 1/1000, and in the neonatal intensive care unit population, 5/1000. The cost of screening was $17 per infant, and the cost to identify each true bilateral hearing loss was $17,750. Amplification was recommended for 15 infants; well infants who used hearing aids before age 6 months achieved age-appropriate speech and language development.


Mild, moderate, and severe bilateral, persistent hearing loss can be identified in the nursery by automated auditory brainstem response measurement to provide amplification before age 6 months and thus optimize speech and language development.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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