Abu Dhabi: Eight specially trained Al Corniche staff members will be using special equipment that can screen a baby's entire hearing pathway from the outer ear to the brain stem.

The service, now offered for the first time, will help evaluate both ears of newborns.

Al Corniche Hospital is a 235-bed Joint Commission International-accredited health care facility, a maternity hospital owned and operated by the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA), and managed by Johns Hopkins Medicine International.

"This universal screening is clinically proven by the American Academy of Paediatrics and is considered to be an effective way to detect ... hearing problems," says Shirley Hargreaves, Clinical Service Manager.

This quick, non-invasive test is mandatory in North America but not commonly available in the Middle East. This is a significant benefit to both parents and their babies, as evidence shows that a hearing assessment soon after birth leads to earlier identification and treatment of infants with hearing loss.

Children with hearing loss can have increased difficulties with verbal and nonverbal communication skills, behavioural problems and lower educational attainment compared with children who have normal hearing.

Early awareness can mean that support and information can be provided to the family and possible interventions discussed.