BACKGROUND: The European Consensus Statement of Neonatal Hearing recommended universal newborn hearing screening (UNHS) in 1998. UNHS was introduced in Switzerland in 1999 under the auspices of a "Swiss Working Group Hearing Screening in Newborns". The aim of this study was to evaluate the number of newborns being screened and consequently followed-up in Switzerland for the year 2012.
METHODS: Postal questionnaires were sent to all registered maternity clinics and birth-centres in Switzerland. To evaluate follow-up of newborns failing the screening process, a retrospective consecutive cohort analysis of newborns failing screening at the University Hospital Zurich between 2005 and 2010 was performed.
RESULTS: A total of 102/110 (92.7%) maternity clinics and 1/14 (7.1%) birth-centres routinely performed UNHS. When weighted according to the number of births in the varying locations, 97.9% of all newborn received hearing screening. At the University Hospital of Zurich, 253/12,080 (2.1%) newborns failed the screening test and in 15/253 (6%) a relevant bilateral hearing impairment was found. This makes an overall incidence of congenitally relevant hearing loss of 0.12%. Unfortunately, 33/253 (13%) of newborns with failed screening were lost to follow-up.
CONCLUSION: UNHS is well-established in Switzerland and the vast majority of newborns are screened. However, follow-up of failed screens is disappointing. Further measures need to be taken to improve follow up.