Limitations and drawbacks of the hospital-based universal neonatal hearing screening program: First report from the Arabian Peninsula and insights

Arif Ali Kolethekkat*, Rashid Al Abri, Omar Hlaiwah, Zeyad Al Harasi, Ahmed Al Omrani, Adil Ali Sulaiman, Hana Al Bahlani, Manal Al Jaradi, John Mathew

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: To assess the efficacy of the current universal neonatal hearing screening program in a tertiary medical institution in Oman, identify its limitations and drawbacks, and explore their causative factors. Methods: A retrospective review was carried out to analyse the hearing screening of 12,743 live babies born between January 2016 and December 2018. Screen coverage, drop outs, follow up rate, and age at completion of screening, diagnosis, and intervention were analysed. The results were compared with the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing (JCIH) performance quality indices. Prospective questionnaire-based telephonic interviews were then conducted with the parents or caregivers of neonates with hearing loss. Finally, the causes of loss to follow up or delays in hearing screenings, diagnosis, and/or early intervention were studied. Results: The true prevalence of hearing loss was 4.0 in 1000. The coverage of first-stage screening was 90% whereas the compliance with the second stage was 88.04%. 22.8% of the patients eventually obtained final diagnostic confirmation. The overall compliance with amplification was 30.2%. The completion ages of primary screening and final confirmation were 7.98 and 17.3 weeks respectively. The importance of hearing screening is well received by parents, but problems related to communication, delays in the appointment system, and inefficient follow up tracking were identified as the main limitations and drawbacks of the program. Conclusion: The coverage of the neonatal hearing screening program had not yet reached the required goal of 95%. The performance indicators also fell below the international benchmark. There is a need to address the identified causative factors. Effective communication and well-maintained tracking systems need to be implemented.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109926
JournalInternational Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology
Publication statusPublished - May 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Hearing
  • Limitations
  • Newborn
  • Screening
  • Study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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