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Wednesday, July 16, 2008 9:00 AM
Radiocast: Hearing Screening for Newborns

Debra: This is Healthcare 411: Information for better health.

All newborns should be screened for congenital hearing loss. That’s what the leading independent panel of experts in prevention and primary care recommends. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force member Dr. Virginia Moyer says early screening is important.

Dr. Moyer: Since half of infants with hearing loss have no identifiable risk factors, screening at birth for hearing loss should be a part of every newborn’s health care. Children with hearing loss can have problems with communication and social skills, as well as behavioral and academic difficulties.

Debra: Is testing painful?

Dr. Moyer: No. First we place a very sensitive microphone in the ear canal that measures the ear’s response to sound. If we detect an issue, we do a second test to check the brain’s response to sound. These quick and highly accurate tests help to identify infants with hearing loss so they can be treated early when it will do the most good.

Debra: To learn more about this and dozens of other health topics, go to healthcare411.ahrq.gov. Healthcare 411 is produced by AHRQ, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I’m Debra James for Healthcare 411.

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