Newborn Hearing Screening: Early Ear Examination Improves the Pass Rate

Yehuda Schwarz*, Roye Mauthner, Oded Kraus, Ofer Gluk, Omer Globus, Liron Kariv, Sharon Ovnat Tamir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Temporary conductive hearing loss due to vernix accumulation in the external ear canal may lead to a false-positive result in newborn hearing screening tests. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether ear examination and intervention may reduce the false-positive rate prior to hospital discharge. METHODS: A case series of 42 newborns who failed initial otoacoustic emissions screening were studied in our institution between May and December 2020. RESULTS: During the study period, a total of 735 neonates (1470 ears) were screened by otoacoustic emissions in our hospital. Forty-two newborns who failed otoacoustic emissions were included in our study. They constituted 3.9% (n = 58 ears) of the total number of ears screened. Forty-four ears (75.9%) passed and 14 ears (24.1%) failed otoacoustic emissions rescreening performed shortly following vernix cleaning. Twelve of the remaining 14 ears passed at 10-day rescreening. The remaining 2 ears presented true bilateral hearing loss. During the study period, the general false-positive rate decreased from 56/735 (7.61%) to 12/735(1.63%) (P <.00001). CONCLUSION: Cleaning the vernix of infants who failed otoacoustic emissions prior to hospital discharge lowers the false-positive rate of universal neonatal hearing screening. We may assume that vernix cleaning will reduce significant healthcare workload, costs of unnecessary investigations, as well as parental anxiety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)402-406
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of International Advanced Otology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Hearing loss
  • newborn hearing screening
  • otoacoustic emission
  • referral rate
  • vernix


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