All Neonates to Be Screened for Hearing

All Neonates to Be Screened for HearingAll Neonates to Be Screened for Hearing

Among every 1000 new births in Iran, 4.7 suffer from hearing complications. Annually, between 4,000 and 5000 infants are born with hearing impairment, according to statistics.

In order to check the problem, screening for deafness of all age groups is being executed simultaneously under the Health Reform Plan, said Saeid Mahmoudian, head of the National Hearing Health Plan, ISNA reported.

“The NHHP covers all age groups, from newborns to the elderly. In addition, preventive action through prenatal care up to the time of childbirth is taught in healthcare sessions organized by the Auditory Healthcare Center and Non-Communicable Diseases Center affiliated to the Ministry of Health.

Screening for deafness at present covers 60% of infants (or 800,000 to 900,000 among 1.4 million new births). Testing should be carried out within 6 months after a baby is born. Screening coverage will reach 100% in three years. Hearing complications if diagnosed and treated in the first 6 months after birth can help prevent deafness.

A pilot project to study the auditory health of 3 to 6 year-old children, who comprise 8% of the 80 million population, is underway in 13 provinces. Noise-induced hearing complications are seen among teenagers and young adults as a consequence of excessive use of MP3 players and exposure to loud sounds, besides ear infections. In addition, 7% of the population who are elderly are also hard of hearing and suffer from deafness. Training sessions on how to use hearing aid accessories and healthcare information are planned for the elderly other than medical examinations.

Mahmoudian said a new category of compulsory screening for hearing will be added to health cards of all newborns by next year. The rate of congenital hearing defects, in some areas is two times higher than the average, especially in provinces like Kohgiluyeh-Boyer Ahmad which is an alarming 8%, indicating that the problem in the area is unique and requires more study.