The auditory response cradle is being used in a mass hearing screening project. Babies are assessed in the first week after birth by the fully automatic, microprocessor controlled cradle. The test, lasting from two to 10 minutes, compares physiological auditory responses to natural behaviour measured in control trials. More than 5000 babies have been tested and full follow up information at the age of 7 to 9 months is available from over two thirds of these. Less detailed information is available for 71% and 64% of those babies who have been followed up at 18 months and three years of age respectively. A total of 439 of 5553 neonates tested failed the first screening test. Eighty eight (1 X 6%) failed a second screening test while still in the maternity unit but 61 of these were subsequently shown to be normal, giving a false positive rate of 1 X 1%. The babies who failed the screening tests included 9 with sensorineural hearing loss, three with secretory otitis media, and three with abnormal auditory brain stem response tests. One child who passed the initial screening tests was found to have a moderately severe hearing loss at the age of 18 months.
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