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Hearing Loss Diagnosed Earlier With Mandatory Screening

Last Updated: March 22, 2011.

Children born after the introduction of mandatory universal newborn hearing screenings have hearing loss diagnosed and cochlear implants at a younger age, according to a study published in the March issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology -- Head & Neck Surgery.

TUESDAY, March 22 (HealthDay News) -- Children born after the introduction of mandatory universal newborn hearing screenings (UNHS) have hearing loss diagnosed and cochlear implants at a younger age, according to a study published in the March issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology -- Head & Neck Surgery.

Nancy Melinda Young, M.D., from the Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago, and colleagues analyzed data from 417 pediatric implant recipients born before and after UNHS was mandated by law in the State of Illinois. Researchers determined whether the implementation of UNHS has affected the age of sensorineural hearing loss diagnosis and cochlear implantation, and how often children undergoing implantation passed UNHS with no indication of hearing loss.

The investigators found that children born after UNHS was mandated were significantly younger at diagnosis and cochlear implantation. Children who passed UNHS or who were not screened did not have a younger age of sensorineural hearing loss diagnosis. Approximately 30 percent of children who went on to receive implants passed UNHS irrespective of known risk factors, or the cause of hearing loss.

"One-third of our cochlear implant population born after UNHS was legally mandated passed the screening. In light of their older age at diagnosis and implantation compared with their peers who failed UNHS, these children may not have received the potential benefit of improved outcomes conferred by early identification and intervention," the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to Cochlear America and Advanced Bionics Corporation.

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