New rapid DNA to prevent hearing loss in newborn babies


The eagle-eyed of you may remember that, back in July last year, we blogged about a new genetic test being trialled by some NHS hospitals that could protect the hearing of newborn babies who are vulnerable to a particular antibiotic. 

One in 500 babies born in the UK has a gene that can lead to permanent hearing loss if they’re given the common emergency antibiotic, Gentamicin. Gentamicin is life-saving and the first-choice antibiotic if a newborn develops a serious bacterial infection. It’s safe for most people, but some 180 babies in England each year suffer hearing loss as they have the gene and are given this drug.

Thanks to a new rapid DNA test it’s now possible to test for the gene before the drug is administered and the test was being trialled at Saint Mary’s Hospital, Wythenshawe Hospital and North Manchester General Hospital in the latter half of last year.

We’re delighted to hear that the trial has been a success and the rapid test is set to be used by NHS hospitals.

This will mean that vulnerable babies can be identified quickly and given a different type of antibiotic – avoiding a lifetime of damaged hearing.

The new test analyses a sample taken from inside the baby’s cheek and results can be available in under half an hour. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) – which decides which drugs and technologies the NHS uses – has provisionally approved the test.

The test will be made available as part of an early assessment to consider how well it works in a range of hospitals, and to see what impact it has on antibiotic use, before it gets final approval.

Audiologist of the Year 2018 WinnerAudiologist of the Year 2014 Runner-upAudiologist of the Year 2015 Runner-upAudiologist of the Year 2016 Runner-upInspired by Ida Clinic badgeInspired by Ida Professional badgeAssured Hearing Care badgeHCPC Registered badge