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Newborn hearing screening review

The Ministry of Health has conducted a review into the newborn hearing screening programme which has led to 2000 babies being recalled for further screening.

As a result of the re-screening one infant aged 10 months has been identified as having congenital hearing loss and the child will now receive treatment. The programme expects to find one baby in 1000 with congenital hearing loss.

About 55,000 newborn babies are screened through the programme from around 64,000 births a year.

All DHBs were involved in the review and six DHBs have been confirmed as having potential irregularities which would be best addressed by re-screening. These were Auckland, Hutt Valley, Canterbury, Lakes, Bay of Plenty and Waitemata DHBs. There are two other DHBs still providing information to the Ministry (Hawkes Bay and Waikato). Similar issues around newborn screening have occurred overseas.

The Ministry is providing information from its review to the families whose babies are affected and they have been invited to be re-screened. A report will be released in the New Year once the families have been informed of the review’s outcome.

“Our priority throughout this process has been to ensure that families have been kept informed of the process and that there is support available to them,” Director National Services Purchasing Jill Lane said.

“We encourage all the families who have yet to take up the offer of re-screening to do so.”

“The actions taken since issues were flagged earlier this year mean New Zealanders can be reassured screening in the newborn hearing programme is being provided to a high standard and regularly monitored.”

ENDS

Contact:
Marian Mortensen
Principal Advisor Sector Relationships & Engagement
National Health Board
Ministry of Health
DDI: (04) 816 4319
021 413 887

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