A Hearing Screening Program in Low-Income San Francisco Preschools Shows Success

March 28, 2022
Dr. Dylan Chan is the director of the UCSF Children's Communication Center.

A study conducted by investigators from the Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF OHNS) and the San Francisco Department of Public Health examined the outcomes of an early childhood hearing screening program in a low-income setting.

"Newborn hearing screening helps identify childhood hearing loss which helps mitigates permanent speech, language, and developmental delays, but what about those children who are lost to follow-up or who develop postnatal hearing loss?" says Dylan Chan, MD, PhD, UCSF pediatric OHNS faculty member and lead investigator on this study.

Evidence on the outcomes of early childhood hearing screenings had been very limited up until this point. Their retrospective study looked at 6820 children aged 2 to 6 years from urban, low-income public preschools who received hearing screening from July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2019, performed using San Francisco DPH health records.

The study found that annual single-visit, 2-tiered screening was 99.6% successful in screening children, and that the network of public health staff achieved a remarkable 86% follow-up rate with this vulnerable population. Overall, 208 children were identified with hearing loss that was subsequently managed with medical and audiologic intervention. The study was recently published in JAMA Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery 

"Our findings suggest that preschool-based hearing screening is useful for identifying and intervening in childhood hearing loss that might have been missed through newborn hearing screening to support children for future academic success," says Dr. Chan.

Dr. Chan directs the Children's Communication Center (CCC) at UCSF OHNS. The focus of the clinical research program at the CCC is on the nature and impact of demographic disparities on these family- and patient-centered outcomes in childhood hearing loss, which - before now - was very understudied. Dr. Chan collaborated with Kara Brodie, MD, MPhil and Abel David, MD, UCSF OHNS resident physicians along with Hayley Kriss, BS, an audiometrist with San Francisco DPH.

Read more about pediatric otology and audiology research at UCSF OHNS.