Objectives: The aim of this study was to evaluate the universal newborn hearing screening (UNHS) and intervention program in Shanghai, China.
Methods: This study included the quantitative analyses of the UNHS-Shanghai database in 2002–12 and qualitative assessment of the program. The Otoacoustic Emissions and the Automated Auditory Brainstem Evoked Responses tests were conducted in screening. The costs and benefits were calculated based on the number of participants in each stage. The short-term and long-term periods were defined as from birth to 15 years of age or to death (82-year-olds), respectively. Sensitivity analyses were conducted.
Results: A total 1,574,380 newborns were included, representing 93.6 percent of all eligible babies in Shanghai during the study period. The prevalence of newborn hearing loss was 1.66‰. The short-term/long-term program costs were ¥488.5 million (US$75.52 million)/¥1.08 billion (US$167.12 million), and the short-term/long-term program benefit was ¥980.1 million (US$151.53 million)/¥8.13 billion (US$1.26 billion). The program benefit was greater than its cost if the proportion of hearing-loss children enrolled in regular schools was no less than 41.4 percent of all hearing impaired children, as well as if the wage growth rate ranged from 3 percent to 8 percent. Qualitative results also suggested that stakeholders strongly supported this program.
Conclusions: The universal newborn hearing screening and intervention program in Shanghai is justified in terms of the resource input in the long run, although there is still room for further improvement with respect to educational rehabilitation and a better infrastructure system.