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HomeWeekly RoundupQuicker test being trialled to help prevent permanent deafness in babies

Quicker test being trialled to help prevent permanent deafness in babies

Newborn babies could be saved from permanent deafness thanks to a new test being pioneered in Manchester, reports a Manchester Evening News report. Some babies develop irreversible hearing loss when exposed to gentamicin – an antibiotic used to treat several types of bacterial infections. The genetic change affects around one in 500 babies and means they will suffer severe hearing loss or total deafness after even a single dose of gentamicin.

As such, scientists at the NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre are working to test for the genetic defect before it does irreversible damage. They are trialling the world’s first emergency genetic bedside test to help medics that treat around 90,000 babies with gentamicin in the UK each year.

The report says antibiotic treatment should be started within the first hour after admission, but currently there are no suitable tests to identify those at risk of hearing loss within that time.

Now researchers in Manchester have developed a quicker way to test for the defective gene. It involves swabbing the inside of the cheek at the patient’s bedside – a method which can deliver a genetic result in less than 30 minutes.

If babies test positive for the defect, medics can instead use alternative antibiotics and avoid potential life-changing adverse reactions to gentamicin.

The report says the test will be run for six months on 1,000 babies at intensive care units at St Marys Hospital in Manchester and Liverpool Womens Hospital. Medics will aim to test all babies within ten minutes of admission to intensive care.

[link url="https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/health/newborns-could-spared-permanent-deafness-17606766"]Full Manchester Evening News report[/link]

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