A new hearing screening system for preschool children

Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2014 Feb;78(2):290-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2013.11.026. Epub 2013 Dec 1.


Objectives: This study aimed to investigate the practical application of Smart Hearing, a new hearing screening system for preschool children.

Methods: The screening system was applied to 6288 preschool children. The system auto-tested hearing thresholds at three frequencies: 1kHz, 2kHz, and 4kHz; a 30dB hearing level (HL) was the critical intensity for passing. Children with positive results were referred for audiological evaluation (pure tone audiometry, tympanometry and distortion product otoacoustic emissions assessment, etc.). To evaluate the test accuracy, 312 children (5%) were randomly selected to receive audiology assessment.

Results: In this study, 582 children (9.3%) tested positive in the screening, and the referral rate of the four age groups from 3 to 6 years old was 18.8%, 11.9%, 6.5% and 4.0%, respectively. A total of 463 children underwent audiological assessment, of which 12 cases (1.91‰; 95% CI: 0.83‰, 2.99‰) were diagnosed with permanent hearing loss, and 75 cases (1.19%; 95% CI: 0.92%, 1.46%) were diagnosed with temporary conductive hearing loss. No mixed hearing loss was found in this study. The specificity of the system was 92.6% and the sensitivity was only 37.5%.

Conclusions: This screening system is suitable for the universal hearing screening of preschool children above 4 years old, and further improvements of the system are needed to increase its sensitivity.

Keywords: CI; Conductive hearing impairment; HL; Multimedia; OAE; PTA; Permanent hearing impairment; Pure tone screening; confidence interval; dBA; decibels A-weighted; hearing level; otoacoustic emissions; pure tone audiometry.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Hearing Loss / diagnosis*
  • Hearing Loss / epidemiology
  • Hearing Tests / methods
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity