Audiology in Brief The New Zealand government plans to introduce free hearing tests for all newborns. Congenital hearing loss is a significant health and disability issue in New Zealand, affecting between 135 to 170 newborns each year. Maori children are disproportionately affected, accounting for 46% of all deafness diagnoses. An advisory group ... News in Brief
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News in Brief  |   May 01, 2006
Audiology in Brief
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Hearing Disorders / News in Brief
News in Brief   |   May 01, 2006
Audiology in Brief
The ASHA Leader, May 2006, Vol. 11, 5. doi:10.1044/leader.NIB.11062006.5
The ASHA Leader, May 2006, Vol. 11, 5. doi:10.1044/leader.NIB.11062006.5
New Zealand to Screen Hearing for All Newborns
The New Zealand government plans to introduce free hearing tests for all newborns.
Congenital hearing loss is a significant health and disability issue in New Zealand, affecting between 135 to 170 newborns each year. Maori children are disproportionately affected, accounting for 46% of all deafness diagnoses.
An advisory group reports that many complex issues should be addressed before free hearing tests are implemented, including workforce development, funding, and information systems development. A further report from the National Screening Unit will be provided to the health minister by mid-year and will advise on the next steps.
Scientists Improve Converting Sounds to Electronic Signals
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) have devised a new system for converting sounds to digital form. It could significantly improve the sound quality of cochlear implants, digital audio players, cellular telephones and many other devices.
Evan Smith and Michael Lewicki, both supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), report in the Feb. 23 issue of Nature that their “spike code” method is three to four times more efficient than currently used algorithms. It means only one-third to one-fourth as much information is needed to achieve the same sound fidelity.
New Vaccine May Cut Middle Ear Infections
An experimental vaccine might cut infections of the middle ear, researchers report in the March 4 Lancet.
The new vaccine doesn’t wipe out all causes of ear infections. Instead, it contains proteins from two leading causes: the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae and nontypable Haemophilus influenzae.
Vaccines targeting Streptococcus pneumoniae already exist. But middle-ear infections mainly affect children younger than 2 years old, who are too young for those vaccines to be effective, write the researchers.
Roman Prymula of the Czech Republic’s University of Defence studied nearly 5,000 infants in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Half of the babies got the experimental vaccine when they were 3-, 4-, 5-, and 12-to-15 months old. The others got a routine vaccination against a totally unrelated condition, hepatitis A. All of the babies were followed until they were 24–27 months old. The experimental vaccine group had fewer middle-ear infections (333 infections, compared with 499 cases in babies who didn’t get the experimental vaccine).
ASHA Launches Audiology Advocate E-Newsletter
Audiology Advocate, a new monthly e-newsletter, is being distributed to ASHA’s audiology membership.
The newsletter contains advocacy news and alerts and direct links to advocacy and on-line resources to help readers position themselves and their practices in both health and educational arenas. Late-breaking advocacy news and quick, easy-to-read headlines linked to more information of direct interest to readers are the focus. The publication offers timely news and action alerts about billing and reimbursement issues as well as federal and state legislation and regulations.
To receive the Audiology Advocate, send a blank e-mail with the word “subscribe” in the subject line to audiology-advocate-request@lists.asha.org.
For more information, please contact Jim Potter, ASHA’s director of government relations and public policy, by e-mail at jpotter@asha.org or by phone at 800-498-2071, ext. 4125.
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FROM THIS ISSUE
May 2006
Volume 11, Issue 6