A study that was published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery journal questions the reliability of newborn hearing tests. The researchers led by Dr. David Chi from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center found that some infants who passed their newborn hearing tests were later diagnosed as deaf or hard of hearing.
The researchers said that it is possible that the children were born with normal hearing and developed problems later. However, they also said that it is possible that they had hearing problems from birth and that their newborn hearing test failed to detect them. Their study does not prove that newborn hearing tests are unreliable. But it sends a clear message to parents not to rely on newborn hearing tests and take their youngsters to a doctor if they think their child may have hearing problems.
Chi and his team went through medical records of over 900 children aged (in average) 4 to 5 years who were brought in for hearing loss between the years of 2001 and 2011. The researchers then focused on 78 children who passed their newborn hearing tests. Of these 78 children, 28 were suspected to have hearing problems by their parents, 25 failed their school hearing tests, while 17% and 12% had a speech delay and failed their doctor’s test, respectively.
Over one half of the 78 children who were analyzed by Chi and his team had an unknown cause of hearing problems. Others’ deafness was related to structural ear problems, genetics and infection. It also remains unknown how long these children had hearing problems before they were diagnosed.
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