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October 23, 1991

Seeking to Detect Hearing Loss at Earlier Age

JAMA. 1991;266(16):2193. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03470160025007

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A SCREENING procedure called evoked otoacoustic emissions test now is being used to detect hearing loss in some newborns.

It generates inner ear vibrations in response to acoustic stimulation from a probe containing a sensitive miniature microphone and miniature loudspeaker placed in the external canal. An acoustic click (50 stimuli per second) is emitted through the middle ear and recorded.

Susan J. Norton, PhD, Children's Hospital, Seattle, Wash, says that in the United States the average age at which congenital sensorineural hearing loss is detected is 2.5 years. In Israel, the Scandinavian countries, and Britain, which now use this screening procedure, the average age when hearing impairment is detected is 7 months, she says. Norton spoke at a Washington, DC, seminar on communication disorders sponsored by the Johns Hopkins Center for Hearing and Balance, Baltimore, Md, and the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, National Institutes of Health,