Hearing Screening

POSITIVE HEARING SCREENING OUTCOMES IN SCHOOLCHILDREN FROM POLAND AND OTHER COUNTRIES OF EUROPE, CENTRAL ASIA, AND AFRICA

by Piotr H. Skarżyński, Adam Piłka, Maciej Ludwikowski, Magdalena B. Skarżyńska

The proper functioning of hearing, vision, and speech is the basis for social communication, and in today’s society they are necessary for rapid and accurate information flow. Deficits in hearing can cause problems with receiving the information and can also impair speech development. In turn, this may prevent attendance in mainstream schools and the achievement of a full education. Therefore in many countries universal newborn hearing screening programs have been introduced [1–10]. Many children have benefit from early interventions such as cochlear implants, hearing aids, or appropriate rehabilitation management. Nevertheless, there are still a large number of school-age children with hearing disorders.
In Poland, the first studies on hearing screening in newborns were performed by Prof. Maria Goralówna (present- ed in 1993 at a congress in Augustow, Poland). In 1995–98, Prof. Henryk Skarżyński and co-workers undertook several studies on this area [11]. All these studies were limit- ed to newborn screening, and resulted in the development of a universal newborn hearing screening program that is now part of the general health care system in Poland.
A key age for diagnosing communication disorders – apart from infancy and preschool – is when the child is in primary school. At this time, malfunction of the sensory organs can give rise to delays in learning, difficulties in acquiring language skills, and impaired intellectual development, all of which rely on effective communication with the environment. Early detection and diagnosis of disorders of hearing, vision, and speech, together with appropriate treatment, can promote a child’s proper development and allow them to fully participate in life. There- fore, in 2001, with experience gathered from studies of newborns [2,11], the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing began performing epidemiological studies focused on schoolchildren.
The importance of detecting communication disorders was raised during the Polish Presidency of the Council of the European Union. It succeeded in drawing the attention of politicians, representatives of the Member States, and EU of a universal newborn hearing screening program that is now part of the general health care system in Poland.
A key age for diagnosing communication disorders – apart from infancy and preschool – is when the child is in primary school. At this time, malfunction of the sensory organs can give rise to delays in learning, difficulties in acquiring language skills, and impaired intellectual development, all of which rely on effective communication with the environment. Early detection and diagnosis of disorders of hearing, vision, and speech, together with appropriate treatment, can promote a child’s proper development and allow them to fully participate in life. There- fore, in 2001, with experience gathered from studies of newborns [2,11], the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing began performing epidemiological studies focused on schoolchildren.
The importance of detecting communication disorders was raised during the Polish Presidency of the Council of the European Union. It succeeded in drawing the attention of politicians, representatives of the Member States, and EU institutions to the issues surrounding disorders of hearing, vision, and speech among children, and to the con- sequences of not treating these disorders. Solutions were identified that might overcome the problems and allow their effects to be limited. A universal screening program for children in preschool and in school was recommend- ed as the most effective way forward.
On the initiative of Prof. Henryk Skarżyński, in June 2011 two European scientific consensuses were signed. The first was the European Scientific Consensus on screening for hearing, vision, and speech in children of preschool and school age, a document signed by European audiologists, ophthalmologists, and speech and language therapists (the European Federation of Audiology Societies, EFAS, and the European Union of Phoniatricians, Committee of Speech Therapists, EPSCO). The second was the European Scientific Consensus on universal hearing screening for children in preschool and primary school, signed by the representatives of 27 countries gathered together in EFAS [12].
The culmination of the Polish Presidency was the signing by the EU Council, in Brussels, of the ‘Conclusions on early detection and treatment of communication disorders in children, including the e-Health tools and innovative solutions’ (2011/C361/04), at the meeting of the EPSCO Council on 2 December 2011 [13]. The ‘Conclusions’ invites representatives of the governments of the Member States to take measures for early detection and treatment of disorders of hearing, sight, and speech in children, including the implementation of screening programs and the use of the opportunities offered by modern technologies and e-health.
In Poland, the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing, in collaboration with KRUS (the Polish Agri- cultural Social Insurance Fund), continued their research on epidemiology of hearing loss in children and under- took hearing screening of 92 876 schoolchildren [14]. The program was based on mobile devices for screening and unique systems to allow for the management of results, data collection, and quality assurance testing [14].
This model for hearing screening makes it possible to implement screening of school-age children not only in Po- land, but well beyond its borders. These activities have been carried out in recent years by the World Hearing Center of the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing and the Institute of Sensory Organs. That study continues programs performed in Poland in 2008–2010 and is based on the same methodology [14,15]. The screening program includes work in developing countries which have basic levels of medicine. In order to ensure an appropriate organizational framework for the implementation of screening programs, an International Consortium for Hearing Screening was established. As a result of this collaboration, preliminary hearing screening has been conducted in schools in Poland, and in selected countries of Europe, Central Asia, and Africa.
The purpose of the present study is to compare the frequency of positive outcomes of hearing screening of schoolchildren in Poland and these other countries.

(REFERENCES can be found in the Bibliography section of the pdf file)

 
 
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