Universal newborn hearing screening using A-TEOAE and A-ABR: The experience of a large public hospital

F. Cianfrone, F. Mammarella, M. Ralli*, V. Evetovic, C.M. Pianura, G. Bellocchi | JNPM 2018;

BACKGROUND: Universal newborn hearing screening (UNHS) aims to identify hearing loss in the early postnatal period; prompt detection of bilateral or unilateral hearing loss is mandatory for timely intervention.
METHODS: This retrospective study reports the results of the first two years of a UNHS program on 4,719 newborns in a large public Italian hospital. Screening was divided into two levels: automated transient otoacoustic emissions were used for first level; automated auditory brainstem response for second level. Second level included children with a “refer” response at first level and babies with a family history for hearing loss or other risk factors. Hearing loss diagnosis was made using clinical auditory brainstem response.
RESULTS: During first level, 254 (5.4% ) newborns were “refer”. At retest, 130 (51.1% ) babies were PASS and 48 (18.8% ) were “refer”. 76 babies dropped out (29.9% ). 146 babies (3.1% ) were referred to the second level: 48 for a “refer” response at first level and 98 for a PASS response but potential hearing loss due to risk factors. 24 babies dropped out (16.4% ). Out of 122 newborns tested in the second level, 105 (86.1% ) had a PASS response and 17 (13.9% ) were “refer”. Our screening protocol identified 7 (0.14% ) babies with profound hearing loss; 5 had unilateral and 2 had bilateral hearing loss. 2 babies dropped out at diagnostic level (11.8% ).
CONCLUSIONS: A correct and early diagnosis of hearing loss is mandatory to prevent permanent consequences; the spread of hearing screening programs is the optimal solution to reach this goal.

*Corresponding Author: 

Massimo Ralli, MD, PhD, Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Sciences, Sapienza University of Rome, Viale del Policlinico 155, 00186, Rome, Italy. Tel.: +39 0649976808; E-mail: massimo.ralli@uniroma1.it.