Abstract for Conference in Erewan, September 4, 2009
“Neonatal Hearing Screening – A survey on the current situation worldwide”
Dr. Dr. h.c. Monika Lehnhardt – Prof. Ernst Lehnhardt-Foundation, Badenweiler, Germany
Statistics worldwide agree: a significant hearing impairment is the most frequent disorder in
newborns. Depending on the applied protocol 1 – 3 babies out of 1.000 are identified to be
bilaterally severely hearing impaired. In the group of risk babies it is 2 – 4 out of 100. The high level
of incidence and the proven long-term negative effects of a severe hearing impairment or deafness
on the development of the child as a personality sufficiently justify neonatal hearing screening for all
newborns. The availability of appropriate technology to identify the problem and to intervene
professionally with excellent chances for success to integrate and to include the child into the world
of hearing is another convincing factor.
In January 2009 – after 10 years of lobbying – a law to introduce neonatal hearing screening was
finally passed in Germany. The responsibility for implementation, however, lies with the federal
countries and differs greatly as a consequence. As major obstacles to a high quality implementation
all over the country we identified lack of suitable test equipment, insufficiently trained personnel,
lack of central data processing and administration, insufficient counselling of parents and serious
problems in financing.
In many other countries in Europe, in the US and in Canada the situation is much better. Examples in
Europe are Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Poland and Croatia.
In some countries neonatal hearing screening is in a start-up phase (e.g. Russia), some countries are
still a “white spot” (e.g. Africa, many Asian countries).