NZ newborn hearing screening celebrates 15 years

Staff from the screening service joined the Audiology team to celebrate the service’s 15th birthday
Staff from the screening service joined the Audiology team to celebrate the service’s 15th birthday
On 20th February 2004, New Zealand’s first newborn hearing screening service was launched at Waikato DHB. This February, staff from the screening service joined the Audiology team on the service’s 15th birthday, to mark this important anniversary and what it has meant for children and families in the DHB and nationwide.

Newborn hearing screening was first initiated by former Waikato DHB audiologist Michele Pokorny and Funding and Relationship Manager Ruth Rhodes, and has since been established as a national programme, with all eligible babies in New Zealand now able to receive a hearing screening check.

The core goals of the national programme are ensuring that babies are screened by one month of age, hearing checks are completed by three months and the right support is in place by six months.

These checks are done via the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening and Early Intervention Programme, which aims to identify newborns with hearing loss early so they can get the help they need for language, learning and social development.

The National Screening Unit’s Antenatal and Newborn Screening Programme Leader, Dr Samantha Everitt joined with Waikato DHB staff and Michelle Pokorny to recognise this important anniversary.

“It is great to be able to celebrate the important work Waikato DHB did in introducing newborn hearing screening into New Zealand,” says Dr Everitt. “New born hearing screening has made a huge difference to the lives of so many people, not only to the babies identified with hearing loss through the programme, but also for their families and whānau.”

Since 2004, the Waikato team have screened over 77,900 babies. There have been:

  • 1366 babies referred for follow up treatment by audiologists
  • 441 babies identified with a hearing loss
  • 141 of these babies have a permanent hearing loss in both ears
  • 112 babies have been fitted with hearing aids
  • 25 infants have had cochlear implants.

Visit Waikato DHB’s website for more about the Newborn Hearing Screening service

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Page last updated: 04 April 2019