Hearing pathways for children with a syndrome or craniofacial abnormalities: A Queensland Review.

Philippa Horn1, Dr Rachael Beswick1, Dr Carlie Driscoll2, Jane Fitzgibbons1

1Healthy Hearing Program, Children’s Health Queensland, Nundah, Australia,

2University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia


Early identification of hearing loss in children with a syndrome or craniofacial abnormalities is an ongoing challenge for surveillance programs. Previous research by Beswick et al. (2012) identified that these children are at a significant risk of being identified with a hearing loss postnatally and that automated Auditory Brainstem Response (aABR) screening may have limitations in identifying hearing loss in this cohort in the neonatal period. In response, Queensland introduced the referral category “Early Targeted Surveillance (ETS)”. Under this referral category, children that pass newborn hearing screening and are identified with a syndrome associated with permanent childhood hearing loss or craniofacial abnormality (e.g. cleft palate) are referred to audiology for a full diagnostic examination by 6 weeks old.

Five years later, we review 630 children that were seen through this hearing surveillance pathway. Preliminary data analysis indicates approximately 5% of children that passed newborn hearing screening were diagnosed with permanent childhood hearing losses, the majority of which were mild. In comparison, children with the same risk factors that referred on the newborn hearing screen and were diagnosed with a hearing loss were most commonly identified with moderately-severe hearing losses. Permanent conductive hearing loss was most prevalent across both cohorts however its aetiology differed between the two groups. Further statistical analysis will be provided at this presentation.

These findings suggest that children with the risk factors of syndrome or craniofacial abnormalities that pass the newborn hearing screen may still require earlier and more comprehensive audiological surveillance for identification and management of hearing loss.

Beswick, R., Driscoll, C., Kei, J., & Glennon, S. (2012). Targeted surveillance for postnatal hearing loss: A program evaluation. International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology, 76(7), 1046-1056.


Philippa Horn is a graduate paediatric audiologist working for Children’s Health Queensland that is very fortunate to be completing research with the Healthy Hearing Program in Brisbane. She completed a Master of Audiology Studies from the University of Queensland in 2017 and holds a Bachelor of Speech and Hearing Sciences from Macquarie University in Sydney. Philippa has an interest in early identification of hearing loss in complex children, implantable technology and newborn hearing screening program pathways.