Newborn Hearing


Newborn Hearing

February 18, 2014
"Why I Participate" by Kisha Greenidge-Kader
read >>

August 15, 2013
Nevada Sees Improved Hearing Screening of Infants
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May 17, 2013
"Why I Participate" by Parent Partner Wendy Hewitt
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In the past decade, the U.S. has made impressive progress in reliably screening infants for hearing loss in the hospital. With screening rates increasing from 46.5% in 1999 to over 97% today, this is one of the most successful public health interventions in recent times. However, it is only the first step in a successful screening program. Early identification of hearing loss and appropriate support are important to successful speech and language development. For babies who do not pass their hearing test in the hospital, research shows that outcomes are dramatically improved when they receive timely follow-up to confirm a diagnosis by 3 months and – if needed – appropriate early intervention services by 6 months. Unfortunately, these two critical follow-up steps are not happening at the same level of reliability as the initial screening.

Click the infographic above to enlarge.

Nearly 4 million infants are born in the US each year. Almost all are screened for hearing and some 63,000 do not pass their initial hearing test. More than half of those who fail fall off the radar: that is, there is no record of them receiving a follow-up exam.

Of the other 30,000 infants that do have a second screening, nearly 6,000 babies are confirmed to have hearing loss but some 2,000 of them have no record of enrolling in early intervention services (to receive a hearing aid or learn sign language, for example). The absence of a record could be due to faulty paperwork or families not taking a baby for services.

The net result is that the majority of babies who do not pass their hearing test each year are not documented as having received proper follow-up or intervention services. The ultimate success of the screening program in terms of patient outcomes depends on a reliable system for these crucial follow-up steps.

NICHQ Projects

NICHQ is partnering with the Health Resources and Service Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) to engage states in a collaborative effort to enhance the performance of Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) programs. The aim of the work is to ensure that no infants are “lost to follow up” or “lost to documentation” by improving the systems involved in transmitting vital information between parents and healthcare providers.

This improvement effort, called Improving Hearing Screening and Intervention Systems (IHSIS), uses a collaborative learning approach with quality improvement methods to test and implement new ways to improve the quality and timeliness of screening, diagnosis, and entry into intervention.

Read more about this project here.

Additional Resources

Access hearing screening toolkits:
Toolkit for Parents and Providers of Children with Hearing Loss 2005 Newborn Hearing Screening Toolkit
Read about parent involvement in this work:
Bringing the Parents' Perspective to Quality Improvement
Powerful Partnerships: A Handbook for Families and Providers Working Together to Improve Care
Watch a video in which members of the current IHSIS Learning Collaborative talk about their experiences improving newborn hearing screening and intervention.


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