Medics call for all babies to have new deafness test
Jeremy Laurance is a writer on health issues. He is former health editor of The Independent and the i and has covered the specialism for more than 20 years. He thinks the harm medicine does is under-appreciated, the harm it prevents over-rated, and that cycling works better than most drugs. He was named Specialist Journalist of the Year in the 2011 British Press Awards.
Saturday 15 November 1997
A discovery 20 years ago has made it possible to check the hearing of newborn babies with a simple test. The finding that healthy ears produce sound led to the development of a probe which, when inserted into the baby's ear, sends out clicks and then listens for the tiny echoes that a healthy ear should send back.
A study by the Medical Research Council's Institute of Hearing Research in Nottingham and the Department of Audiology at the University of Manchester has found that only a quarter of the 840 children born each year with permanent hearing problems are identified by the standard hearing check carried out by health visitors at 7 to 8 months of age. This test involves one health visitor distracting the child while another makes quiet sounds to see whether the baby notices.
The study, commissioned by the health department, found a further quarter were detected in other ways by the age of 18 months, but about 200 still remained unidentified at three and a half years. This means they do not benefit from hearing aids at a crucial time in their development.
The new test is cheaper and more accurate than the distraction test, as well as identifying those affected at a younger age. The MRC study recommends a national screening programme with a back-up distraction test at seven months for those who miss the earlier screen.
In the United States, 200 hospitals provide universal hearing screening, half using the British test. Only a few centres in the UK routinely screen all babies for hearing, one being Whipps Cross hospital in Essex.
Professor Adrian Davis, who led the study, said that spotting affected children early could prevent problems with education and long-term education and improve quality of life.
"Our research has led us to believe that [the probe test] is the most equitable and responsive, provides the best value for money and potentially gives the greatest benefits for hearing impaired children and their families," he said.
The study will now be considered by the health department's National Screening Committee chaired by Sir Kenneth Calman, the Government's chief medical officer.
Test-tube babies born after injecting a single sperm into the egg, a technique for overcoming male infertility which is growing rapidly in popularity, are twice as likely to have a major birth defect. The Australian study of 420 infants, published in the British Medical Journal, found that 31 had major defects, including cleft palate, hernia and heart, digestive or reproductive disorders.
The magicians using online collaboration to push boundaries
Jennifer Lawrence attacks mass media again over body image
Jennifer Lawrence: 'It should be illegal to call someone fat on TV'
Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
Ian Watkins: Police probed over earlier allegations as paedophile Lostprophets singer sentenced to 35 years for child sex offences
DNA from a 50,000 year old toe shows Neanderthals were highly inbred
Devyani Khobragade: India-US row escalates over arrest of diplomat in New York
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
You can STILL be jailed for being a republican, government confirms, and it remains illegal to even 'imagine' overthrowing the Queen
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
Fighting back: the woman giving a voice (and 49,999 others) to the victims of sexism - by giving an airing to their horror stories
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
UK evangelist says Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’
- 1 America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber 'retiring from music'
- 5 Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
- < Previous
- Next >
Negotiable: Capita Education Resourcing Permanent Team: Capita Education Resou...
£39000 - £425000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Newly Qualified ...
£30000 - £38001 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: A highly respecta...
£45 - £55 per day: Randstad Education Newcastle: Level 3 Teaching Assistant in...