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  • Percent of children screened for hearing loss:
  • Incidence of permanent hearing loss among newborns:

Current Status of Early Hearing Detection and Intervention for Children

In Austria (Central Europe), the beginnings of newborn hearing screening date back to the early nineties, when a few hospitals implemented screening programs in their neonatal intensive care units or maternal wards. In 1995, the Austrian ENT Society released a position paper, which endorsed early detection of infant hearing loss through the UNHS and set up guidelines for its nationwide implementation. According to these guidelines, UNHS is performed as a hospital-based, two-stage TEOAE screen: newborns are first tested a few days after birth and, if they fail, undergo a second test prior to discharge from hospital. Since 1995, a growing number of Austrian hospitals have introduced UNHS, so that it’s current coverage (Spring 2005) is estimated at 90% of all Austrian newborns. With a total of approximately 70,000 children born per year [9], and a prevalence rate of 1.11:1000 for congenital hearing impairment [10], some 70 hearing-impaired infants are expected to be born annually in Austria. UNHS is not anchored in legislation (except in one Austrian Federal State). However, testing an infant’s hearing became a routine check in the national child health care program in 2003. Hence, the UNHS can be considered a quasi-mandatory preventive measure. To keep this status, the official advisory committee to the Austrian government requires the ongoing provision of evidence to show that the measure contributes to improving or preserving the health status of the society. The current study was thus undertaken to evaluate the efficacy of the Austrian UNHS program from its early implementation to the present.


  • Population: 8,504,850 (2014 est.)
  • Number of Annual Births (2012 est): 78,109
  • Birth rate: 9.4 live births per 1 000 population
  • Percent of GDP spent on health care (2012): 11%
  • Percent of Health Care expenditures spent by government: 84%
  • Physician density: 4.86 physicians/1,000 population (2010)
  • Percent of newborns attended by skilled providers: 100%
  • Infant Mortality: 4.26 per 1000 (2012)
  • Literacy (age 15 and over can read and write): 98%
  • Percent of children screened for hearing loss: 90%
  • Incidence of permanent hearing loss among newborns:

Publications about EHDI Programs in Austria

  1. Weichbold, V., Nekahm-Heis, D., and Welzl-Mueller, K. 2006. Ten-year outcome of newborn hearing screening in Austria. International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology 70:235-240.
  2. Weichbold V, Nekahm-Heis D, Welzi-Mueller K. Universal newborn hearing screening and postnatal hearing loss. Pediatrics. 2006;117(4):e631-6.

Person responsible for most recent update: