Outcomes from hearing tests performed earlier rather than later are better, says a new European study. Newborn babies tested at two and a half weeks of age do better than those tested at 9 months, say researchers, when it comes to permanent hearing problems.
Out of a total number of 570,000 births that took place in the Netherlands between the years 2003 and 2005, researchers found 400 babies who had permanent hearing disorders.
From these, 183 had newborn testing performed at 2 and half weeks after birth, whereas 118 others were tested at 9 months.
Those children, who were tested earlier, were seen to have better developmental and language outcomes at the ages 3 to 5 than the babies who had been tested later.
This is most likely due to the fact that the babies who were tested earlier were identified as having hearing problems and probably started to receive help earlier than those whose problem was detected later.
While, according to researchers, feasibility and effectiveness of newborn hearing screening programs in other countries remain to be studied, there is a good case made out for earlier screening rather than later screening of newborn babies.