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Simple Test Can Spot Infants' Hearing Problems.

ORLANDO--A simple, cost-effective test can be used to screen newborns for hearing impairment, possibly avoiding future problems in language development, Dr. Kurt Stone said in a poster presentation at the annual meeting of the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine.

Today, hearing impairment is typically diagnosed at about 2.5 years of age, when children already have speech delays. But distortion product otoacoustic emissions (DPOAE) testing by 6 months of age can identify 80% or more of hearing-impaired infants, said Dr. Stone, a family physician at Rapid City (S.D.) Regional Hospital.

He screened 1,002 infants between 1 and 3 days old using the 20-minute DPOAE test. Overall, 89% of the infants passed; the other 11% failed the initial screen and were retested 2 months later.

Two infants failed the repeat DPOAE and were tested for middle ear disease with a tympanogram. One infant failed the tympanogram and required treatment for middle ear disease. The other infant passed the tympanogram, but an auditory brain stem response test revealed sensory neural hearing loss.

At only $19.88 per test and a cost per diagnosis of $22,114, DPOAE is not only cost effective but also shows an acceptable false-positive rate after retesting, he said. In comparison, the cost per diagnosis for phenylketonuria is $40,000. Tympanograms, too, are relatively inexpensive at $25 each.

Colorado, Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Wyoming already cover DPOAE screening as a public health service; in 18 other states, lawmakers are proposing that their state health departments do the same, he said.

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Author:Lawson, Kim
Publication:Family Practice News
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2000
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