|News and media|
Newborn hearing screening machine issue
Parents and caregivers of more than 700 children who underwent a newborn hearing screening test at Waikato Hospital from April last year through to the end of June this year, will from today receive letters offering a retest.
Three of the Accuscreen machines used to measure the hearing response during this period, and returned from Denmark after repair, were set at 45 decibels instead of 35 decibels, a less sensitive hearing level. The first two from March 2009 and the third from March 2010.
Waikato DHB clinical leader: audiology Cobus Marais said this meant while the hearing screening test identified babies with a moderate or more severe hearing loss, it may have missed a baby with a moderate hearing loss.
“The chance of a moderate or more severe hearing loss occurring affects approximately one in one thousand (1:1000). We may have missed one or two babies in this range. The audiologists and doctors believe this risk is low,” he said.
Newborn hearing screening completed on more than 6000 other babies during the 15-month period was on four other machines set to the correct level.
The hearing test offered to these 700 children will take 15-30 minutes and requires an appointment at Waikato Hospital. www.waikatodhb.govt.nz/audiology
“It’s a different test to the newborn test carried out by the screeners following the babies’ births,” said Mr Marais.
A freephone number is set up at Waikato Hospital for parents and caregivers to leave their name and telephone number up to September 30 so the Audiology Department can arrange an appointment.
The Waikato newborn hearing screening programme has been operating for nearly seven years with more than 31,000 babies screened. Screening covered 97 per cent of all babies born at Waikato Hospital, River Ridge East and Waterford birthing units and in the rural areas of Thames, Te Aroha, Taumarunui, Te Kuiti, Tokoroa, Te Awamutu, Huntly, Morrinsville and Matamata.
Of those babies, 526 have had a referral to audiologists, 123 identified with a hearing loss, 47 have permanent bilateral hearing loss, 27 have hearing aids and nine have had a cochlear implant.
Waikato was the first DHB in the country to offer newborn hearing screening. It is now a national screening programme at all 20 DHBs.