Monitoring for postnatal hearing loss using a risk factor registry: Are we any closer to the truth?

Dr Rachael Beswick1

1Children’s Health Queensland, Nundah, Australia

In 2013 a series of recommendations were released for targeted surveillance programs using a risk factor registry. These recommendations were developed by combining the results of previous research, including a systematic review of the literature and a comprehensive evaluation of a targeted surveillance program in Queensland. 2013 recommendations indicated that children with the risk factors of family history and craniofacial anomalies should have their hearing monitored, whereas children with low birth weight should not.  For the remaining risk factors the evidence was less definitive or contradictory, with more research needed to inform practice. This presentation reviews the recommendations released in 2013 against a more recent data sample to assess whether they are still relevant today. Results indicate that children with a syndrome should be added to the list alongside family history and craniofacial anomalies, of children that need their hearing monitored. In contrast, children with bacterial meningitis may not need to have their hearing monitored throughout early childhood. The additional data in this sample has enabled the criteria to be tightened for the risk factors of hyperbilirubinemia, congenital infections, and professional concern. However, there is still insufficient evidence for or against monitoring children with prolonged ventilation or severe asphyxia. Although the evidence base is building, more research is needed to further inform evidence-based clinical policy recommendations for hearing loss detection in early childhood.


Dr Rachael Beswick leads Queensland’s newborn hearing screening program, Healthy Hearing. Rachael completed her PhD in Audiology at the University of Queensland and is currently completing her MBA at the Queensland University of Technology. Her primary areas of research lie in screening programs, risk factors, detection of postnatal hearing loss, and quality assurance processes. She has published several scientific papers, and has presented her research at both national and international conferences.