Nearly All Children Screened for Hearing Loss, but More Need Follow-Up Care

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Ninety-seven percent of infants are now screened for hearing loss, thanks to the establishment of Early Hearing Detection and Intervention [EHDI] programs in every state in the nation, according the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

But what happens after that is unclear, because there is no documentation for more than 46 percent of infants who failed the screening as to whether they received recommended care, writes the article's lead author, Marcus Gaffney, of the CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Development Disabilities.CDC researchers analyzed data collected from the EHDI programs between 1999 and 2007. It's possible some of the children diagnosed with hearing problems might have received treatment that wasn't reported to EHDI program administrators, the study's authors note.

Screening and intervention are critical because up to three infants out of every 1,000 are born with some hearing loss which, left unaddressed, can delay speech and language development, MMWR reports. The report also lays out recommended benchmarks, including screening all children younger than a month of age, a diagnostic screening for those who failed the initial test before they are three months old, and enrollment in an early intervention program before the age of six months for those diagnosed with hearing loss.

The good news is the number of children being tested has improved dramatically. In 1999, only 46.5 percent of infants were screened, compared to today's 97 percent.

"These findings demonstrate progress toward achieving benchmarks for screening, evaluation and intervention and document the continued need to ensure infants receive recommended services in a timely manner," the researchers write.

Related: The Journey Of Sound - How We Hear: Hearing Loss A Guide To Prevention And Treatment

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