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State programs for universal newborn hearing screening.

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
Pediatric clinics of North America
Publication Date
Volume
46
Issue
1
Pages
89–94
Identifiers
PMID: 10079792
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Published reports of several statewide and hospital-based systems for universal newborn hearing screening demonstrate that successful large-scale programs that appropriately identify infants with hearing loss in the earliest months of life can be developed. These programs are characterized by nursery-based screening rates of 95% or higher, referral rates of 6% or less, and reasonable per-infant costs. Less data are available regarding the outcome of these screening programs in ensuring confirmation of hearing loss by 3 months of age and initiation of intervention by 6 months of age. The results of the MDNC survey provide important information on the status of newborn hearing screening, audiologic assessment, and intervention services in 16 states. The survey reveals that hospitals have initiated universal newborn hearing screening programs using appropriate technology but that confirmation of hearing loss, fitting of amplification, and enrollment in early intervention are often delayed beyond the JCIH recommendations. Several factors might contribute to late confirmation of hearing loss and delayed amplification and intervention. First, as shown in the Colorado report, lack of a mandatory statewide system for tracking and reporting may delay transition of infants and families from screening to diagnosis, and diagnosis to intervention. In addition, many states lack a centralized system for reporting confirmed hearing loss. Successful statewide programs for universal newborn hearing screening, audiologic diagnosis, and early intervention depend on data-reporting strategies that facilitate transition of infants and families through a system of care. Second, lack of understanding about the urgent need for intervention in the earliest months of life may hinder referral to early intervention programs. Recent data from Colorado's universal newborn hearing screening program reveals that infants who are deaf or who have hearing losses achieve significantly better language development outcomes if intervention begins before age 6 months than infants whose intervention begins after 6 months of age. Hopefully, as these data become more widely available, the compelling need for early intervention will facilitate transition into these services. Although universal newborn hearing screening programs are increasing rapidly, states have not yet developed the coordinated systems for linking universal newborn hearing screening programs to audiologic diagnostic services and audiologic diagnostic services to early intervention programs. Key issues impeding development of these systems may be lack of tracking and reporting systems, lack of standardized guidelines for screening, diagnostic audiologic assessment, hearing aid fitting for very young infants, and lack of understanding about the compelling need for intervention in the earliest months of life. Development of complete systems of care must become a priority for universal newborn hearing screening to provide its ultimate benefit.

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