University of Washington researchers develop low-cost neonatal hearing test for use in low-income countries

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A team led by researchers at the University of Washington has created a new hearing screening system that uses a smartphone and headphones, shown here in a photo provided.

Raymond Smith/University of Washington

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost all US hospitals screen babies for hearing loss shortly after their birth. The brief test helps detect signs of deafness and hearing loss, which could lead to developmental delays if not detected early. But the equipment used to perform the test costs thousands of dollars, making it a luxury in many low-income countries.

Researchers at the University of Washington recently developed an inexpensive way to perform hearing screenings on newborns using a smartphone and headphones. Shyam Gollakota is a professor at the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering and one of the researchers behind the project. He joins us to talk about what the new method could mean for global health equity.

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