Objectives: To establish a hearing screening program with high coverage, low referral rate, high follow-up rate, and early intervention in Taipei City.
Methods: From September 2009 to December 2010, 85% delivery units in Taipei City, which includes 20 hospitals and 14 obstetrics clinics, were recruited into the screening program in two stages. A total of 15,930 babies were born in these participating hospitals and clinics during the program period. Among these neonates, 15,790 underwent hearing screening test with automatic auditory brainstem response (AABR). The screening was free of charge to the parents. The hearing screening examination was performed 24-36 h after birth. The same test was repeated between 36 and 60 h of age if the baby failed the first hearing test. The neonate was referred to the diagnostic hospitals for further investigations if he failed the second test.
Results: The screening coverage rate was 99.1% (15,790/15,930). The incidence of bilateral moderate to severe and unilateral hearing loss was 1.4 per 1000 (22/15,790) and 1.5 per 1000 (24/15,790), respectively. Four percent (626/15,790) of newborns failed to pass the initial screening test and 1.0% of newborns failed to pass the second screening test. Therefore, 1.0% newborns were referred for diagnostic assessments. The follow-up rate was 94.4% (151/160). Sixty-four percent (14/22) of babies with bilateral hearing loss completed the full diagnostic hearing tests within 3 months of birth.
Conclusions: The universal newborn hearing screening program is an adequate program for Taipei City with high coverage, low referral rate, and good follow-up rate. Screening fees covered by third parties, two-stage screening steps with AABR strategy, and the stringent monitoring system proved to be effective.
Level of evidence: 2b, individual cohort study.
Keywords: Hearing screening; Newborn.
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