Open Access Research article

Assessment of the feasibility and coverage of a modified universal hearing screening protocol for use with newborn babies of migrant workers in Beijing

Beier Qi12, Xiaohua Cheng12, Hui En12, Bo Liu12, Shichun Peng12, Yong Zhen12, Zhenghua Cai12, Lihui Huang12, Luo Zhang12* and Demin Han12*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, Beijing Tongren Hospital, Capital Medical University, 17 HouGouHuTong, DongCheng District, Beijing, 100005, China

2 Key Laboratory of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery (Ministry of Education), Beijing Institute of Otolaryngology, 17 HouGouHuTong, DongCheng District, Beijing, 100005, China

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BMC Pediatrics 2013, 13:116  doi:10.1186/1471-2431-13-116

Published: 8 August 2013



Although migrant workers account for the majority of newborns in Beijing, their children are less likely to undergo appropriate universal newborn hearing screening/rescreening (UNHS) than newborns of local non-migrant residents. We hypothesised that this was at least in part due to the inadequacy of the UNHS protocol currently employed for newborn babies, and therefore aimed to modify the protocol to specifically reflect the needs of the migrant population.


A total of 10,983 healthy babies born to migrant mothers between January 2007 and December 2009 at a Beijing public hospital were investigated for hearing abnormalities according to a modified UNHS protocol. This incorporated two additional/optional otoacoustic emissions (OAE) tests at 24ā€“48 hours and 2 months after birth. Infants not passing a screening test were referred to the next test, until any hearing loss was confirmed by the auditory brainstem response (ABR) test.


A total of 98.91% (10983/11104) of all newborn children underwent the initial OAE test, of which 27.22% (2990/10983) failed the test. 1712 of the failed babies underwent the second inpatient OAE test, with739 failing again; thus significantly decreasing the overall positive rate for abnormal hearing from 27.22% to 18.36% ([2990ā€“973 /10983)]; pā€‰=ā€‰0). Overall, 1147(56.87%) babies underwent the outpatient OAE test again after1-month, of whom 228 failed and were referred for the second outpatient OAE test (i.e. 2.08% (228/10983) referral rate at 1month of age). 141 of these infants underwent the referral test, of whom 103 (73.05%) tested positive again and were referred for a final ABR test for hearing loss (i.e. final referral rate of 1.73% ([228-38/10983] at 2 months of age). Only 54 infants attended the ABR test and 35 (0.32% of the original cohort tested) were diagnosed with abnormal hearing.


Our study shows that it is feasible and practical to achieve high coverage rates for screening hearing loss and decrease the referral rates in newborn babies of migrant workers, using a modification of the currently employed UNHS protocol.

Auditory brainstem response (ABR); Migrant people; Newborn babies; Otoacoustic emissions (OAE); Universal newborn hearing screening (UNHS)