IM this article to a friend!

March 22, 2005

Sound advice for infants

From: Miami Herald, FL - Mar 22, 2005

Los Angeles Times Service

Newborns should be tested for hearing problems more than once before leaving the hospital, a new study has found, because initial tests may falsely indicate auditory problems, resulting in parental anxiety and costly follow-up evaluations later.

A four-year study at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas -- whose 17,000 annual births make it the largest single birthing center in the United States -- found that between 2.4 percent and 4.7 percent of newborns were initially diagnosed with hearing problems after just one test. When a second test was given before discharge, the tests were much more accurate, with just 0.5 percent to 1 percent of the infants appearing to have auditory problems. About half of those infants were found to have actual hearing problems in follow-up diagnostic tests done within 10 days of discharge.

Many states mandate auditory testing on newborns. If problems are found early enough, hearing aids or cochlear implants can help avert potential development delays.

Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School who performed the study found that temporary debris in the external ear canal or middle-ear fluid often caused the false positives.

© 2005 and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.