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Evaluation of universal newborn hearing screening in South African primary care

Katijah Khoza-Shangase, Shannon Harbinson

African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine; Vol 7, No 1 (2015), 12 pages. doi: 10.4102/phcfm.v7i1.769

Submitted: 08 September 2014
Published:  21 May 2015


Background: Universal Newborn Hearing Screening (UNHC) is the gold standard toward early hearing detection and intervention, hence the importance of its deliberation within the South African context.

Aim: To determine the feasibility of screening in low-risk neonates, using Otoacoustic Emissions (OAEs), within the Midwife Obstetric Unit (MOU) three-day assessment clinic at a Community Health Centre (CHC), at various test times following birth.

Method: Within a quantitative, prospective design, 272 neonates were included. Case history interviews, otoscopic examinations and Distortion Product OAEs (DPOAEs) screening were conducted at two sessions (within six hours and approximately three days after birth). Data were analysed via descriptive statistics.

Results: Based on current staffing profile and practice, efficient and comprehensive screening is not successful within hours of birth, but is more so at the MOU three-day assessment clinic. Significantly higher numbers of infants were screened at session 2, with significantly less false-positive results. At session 1, only 38.1% of the neonates were screened, as opposed to more than 100% at session 2. Session 1 yielded an 82.1% rate of false positive findings, a rate that not only has important implications for the emotional well-being of the parents; but also for resource-stricken environments where expenditure has to be accounted for carefully.

Conclusion: Current findings highlight the importance of studying methodologies to ensure effective reach for hearing screening within the South African context. These findings argue for UNHS initiatives to include the MOU three-day assessment to ensure that a higher number of neonates are reached and confounding variables such as vernix have been eliminated.

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Author affiliations

Katijah Khoza-Shangase, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Audiology, University of the Witwatersrand,, South Africa
Shannon Harbinson, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Audiology, University of the Witwatersrand,, South Africa


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1. Feasibility of newborn hearing screening in a public hospital setting in South Africa: A pilot study
Amisha Kanji, Katijah Khoza-Shangase
South African Journal of Communication Disorders  vol: 63  issue: 1  year: 2016  
doi: 10.4102/sajcd.v63i1.150

2. Newborn hearing screening at a community-based obstetric unit: Screening and diagnostic outcomes
Tersia de Kock, DeWet Swanepoel, James W. Hall
International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology  vol: 84  first page: 124  year: 2016  
doi: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2016.02.031

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ISSN: 2071-2928 (print) | ISSN: 2071-2936 (online)

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