Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) National Newborn Screening Program (NNSP) has celebrated its 10th anniversary, having carried out 138,046 hearing tests on infants in Qatar over the past decade.
Between 2005 and 2012, HMC clinicians have diagnosed 703 cases of hearing disorders among newborns and tested and prescribed hearing aids for 600.
More than 100 cochlear implant procedures have been successfully performed since the inception of the programme in 2005 with 23 on the waiting list, said the Head of Audiology and Balance Unit and Chairman of the programme, Dr Khaled Abdul Hadi.
He described the programme as ‘a leading initiative in the domain of screening newborns for hearing disorders in the Middle East and North Africa region.’
The set of medical protocols adopted by the programme are deemed one of the best implemented in the world, where healthy newborns are screened through a three-phase plan:
In the first phase the newborn is subjected to the first hearing test when they are just 24–48 hours old,” he said.
In the second phase, when the newborn is two to three months old and in receipt of their first of several mandatory vaccines, the infant’s hearing is tested.
The third and final phase takes place when the child is five years old and they undergo their third hearing test.
“As for newborns admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) for more than 48 hours, or those who are more prone to hearing disorder due to congenital causes, or due to mothers exposure to communicable diseases, or to pharmaceutical toxicity during pregnancy, they would be subjected to a more stringent protocol where they undergo meticulous screening,” Dr Hadi explained.
The success of the programme in the early detection of various hearing disorders prompted HMC to initiate diagnostic and therapeutic programmes and clinics including the Audiology and Balance Unit, Cochlear Implant Laboratories and the Electronic Cochlear Implants Program.
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