Title: Universal screening for hearing disability has only shown a small advantage in language development in childhood, based on studies with a low level of scientific evidence.
Authors’ conclusions: the early identification and treatment of severe bilateral hearing disability may be associated with some advantages in relation to language development, even though the studies on which this hypothesis is based have a low level of scientific evidence. There is a lack of studies of other result variables of interest, like educational development, social aspects and quality of life.
Reviewers’ commentary: the universal screening program for hearing impairment must be based on greater level of scientific evidence to establish the cost-benefit-harm relations. There is a lack of studies that pose a special emphasis on long term results that imply a better quality of life (the apparent improvement on early language development should imply better educational, occupational and social outcomes), as well as the potential damage of over diagnosis (false positive results, with wrong labelling and cascading consequences) and the screening bias (early diagnosis bias, duration of disease bias and participation bias).