Feature Article

Newborn hearing loss: early diagnosis is vital

Joanna Walton, Elizabeth Peadon

Figures

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© TIM ENGELBRECHT/HELLO SWEETHEART.COM.AU MODEL USED FOR ILLUSTRATIVE PURPOSES ONLY

Abstract

In Australia, three in every 1000 children are born with some degree of hearing loss. Early diagnosis is the key to early intervention and improved outcomes from hearing rehabilitation.

Key Points

  • Early diagnosis of hearing loss and intervention with appropriate hearing devices improves children’s language development as well as social, emotional and educational outcomes.
  • All states and territories in Australia have universal newborn hearing screening (NBHS).
  • Clinicians should have a high index of suspicion for hearing loss in children not meeting speech milestones or having behavioural problems and learning difficulties at school, and refer for audiological and/or ENT assessment.
  • Children can have progressive hearing loss, so passing the NBHS does not mean a child will have normal hearing subsequently.
  • GPs should discuss hygiene measures that can prevent the transmission of cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection with female patients who are pregnant and at higher risk.
  • If an infant has a ‘refer’ result on NBHS, encourage screening for CMV via saliva polymerase chain reaction test within the first 3 weeks of life.
  • CT scan is not an appropriate radiological investigation for newborn hearing loss; MRI of the brain and inner ear is preferred.

Figures

 © TIM ENGELBRECHT/HELLO     SWEETHEART.COM.AU MODEL USED FOR ILLUSTRATIVE PURPOSES ONLY
© TIM ENGELBRECHT/HELLO SWEETHEART.COM.AU MODEL USED FOR ILLUSTRATIVE PURPOSES ONLY