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Newborn Hearing Tests More Effective Than Later Screening

TUESDAY, Oct. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Newborn hearing screening leads to better outcomes than later screening for children with permanent hearing problems, new European research finds.

In a study of all children born between 2003 and 2005 in the Netherlands -- more than 570,000 -- researchers identified more than 400 who had been diagnosed with permanent hearing disorders. They then analyzed the social development, gross motor development and overall quality of life of about 300 of the youngsters, comparing 183 who had had newborn hearing screening (done within 2 weeks of birth) to 118 who had had distraction hearing screening (behavioral testing) conducted around the age of 9 months.

The researchers found that children in the newborn hearing screening group had better general and language developmental outcomes and quality of life at ages 3 to 5 than those in the distraction hearing screening group, presumably because they received earlier help as a result.

The study appears in the Oct. 20 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The findings "add evidence to the presumed importance and effectiveness of the implementation of universal newborn hearing screening programs," wrote the researchers at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands.

"Because this study was performed nationwide, among all children born in the Netherlands in three subsequent years, we believe our results can be generalized to other countries with universal hearing screening programs, but the feasibility and effectiveness of newborn hearing screening programs in other countries remain to be studied," they concluded.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders has more about hearing screening for babies.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Journal of the American Medical Association, news release, Oct. 19, 2010.

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