Ligurian experience on neonatal hearing screening: clinical and epidemiological aspects

M G Calevo, P Mezzano, E Zullino, P Padovani, G Serra et al.
Acta Paediatrica 2007, 96 (11): 1592-9

AIM: Early identification and rehabilitation of newborns with congenital hearing impairment (HI) by Universal Neonatal Hearing Screening (UNHS).

METHODS: The neonatal population was divided into two groups: babies with No Audiological Risk (NAR), and babies With Audiological Risk (WAR). NAR neonates underwent OAE testing, and in case of a doubtful (Refer) result, ABR testing was carried out. All WAR newborns underwent ABR testing within the third month of life.

RESULTS: Between February 1, 2002 and December 31, 2004, UNHS was carried out on 32 502 newborns at the 13 regional birth centres, representing 98.7% of the whole regional neonatal population. The prevalence of HI in the population we tested was estimated at about 1 per thousand, while Bilateral Hearing Impairment (BHI) was estimated at 0.65 per thousand. A 3.7% prevalence of HI and a 2.8% prevalence of BHI was observed among the WAR population. Median age at the end of the diagnostic procedures was 6.7 months in the WAR population and 6.9 months in the NAR population.

CONCLUSIONS: Our project is based on two levels of testing, which resulted in a 0.28% false-positive rate with 100% sensitivity and 99% specificity. Our screening is the first Italian experience that has been extended to a whole region and the results prove that regional neonatal hearing screening is feasible.

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