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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.
- 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.