Unfortunately existing hearing tests do not always catch hearing loss in newborns. According to a new study, one-third of children later treated for deafness with cochlear implants had actually passed the newborn screening.
Yet, as researchers at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago found out - by looking at the records of 127 children who had hearing problems severe enough to be treated with cochlear implants: one-third of these babies had passed the newborn hearing test.
This is not necessarily because the screening is not accurate, but rather the result of the fact that some hearing loss develops slowly. Babies at risk for progressive deafness include those who had cytomegalovirus infections, and those who were in a neonatal intensive care unit.
The earlier children with hearing problems get help, the better they will do at developing language skills. And more testing screens may be needed - Perhaps, even including genetic tests like those developed by Harvard's Center for PErsonalized Genetic Medicine. Or more at-home screening, including iPhone apps or other inexpensive devices.
Nancy Melinda Young, MD; Brian Kip Reilly, MD; Larisa Burke, BA
Limitations of Universal Newborn Hearing Screening in Early Identification of Pediatric Cochlear Implant Candidates. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2011;137(3):230-234. doi:10.1001/archoto.2011.4
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Chapter 28: Vision and Hearing. In:Healthy People 2010 Midcourse Review. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, December 2006. (Available at www.healthypeople.gov/
White KR. Research review—Early hearing detection and intervention programs: Opportunities for genetic services. Am J Med Genet 2004; 130A: 29–36.