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Genetic test to identify deafness

NEWBORN babies who fail a hearing screening can now receive a genetic test for hearing problems in order to detect abnormalities early and receive proper treatment.

Previously, Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Otology Institute only carried out such tests on premature babies, those born in a critical condition and those with impaired development of the brain or inner ear.

Parents-to-be who have hearing difficulties or have previously given birth to a deaf child can also now undergo a test that will screen their foetus for hearing problems, said experts from the institute.

Among every 1,000 newborn babies in the city, two have hearing difficulties, on average. Half of all cases have genetic causes.

The institute has begun a three-year project to study genetic screening and the diagnosis of deafness in newborns.

Some forms of deafness are only brought on if a child takes certain antibiotics or suffers head trauma, so being informed of these risks early can avoid hearing loss.

The test is voluntary and costs about 1,000 yuan (US$146).


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