Background: In 2009, the Federal Joint Committee (Gemeinsamer Bundesausschuss, G-BA) enacted to introduce the newborn hearing screening (NHS). The records of 11,155 children were analyzed with the aim to obtain data of the age at the time of determined diagnosis of childhood hearing impairment before and after introduction of the NHS.
Material and methods: The records of all children presented at our department between January 1, 2000, and December 31, 2009, based on suspected hearing impairment were evaluated. Additionally the data of 3,325 newborns were analyzed who had been screened between 2003 and 2010. The recorded data included the age at the time of determined diagnosis, the type and grade of hearing impairment of the different age groups, the start and type of rehabilitation, the incidence of consecutive control examinations.
Results: For the evaluation interval a total of 1,410 children with permanent hearing impairment could be identified. The mean age at the time of diagnosis was 64 months in 2000 and was reduced to 8.6 months in 2005. Between 2006 and 2009 the babies' mean age was 3.3 months at the time of diagnosis and after introduction of NHS in 2009, the mean age at the time of determined diagnosis was again reduced to 2.4 months. The part of diagnosed sensorineural hearing loss is higher than other hearing disturbances.
Conclusion: The introduction of NHS verified to improve the early detection of childhood hearing impairment. The early diagnosis allows an early rehabilitation and makes a positive development of the children possible. However, children with permanent hearing impairment require continuous long-term care of competent specialists.
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