Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) refers to the practice of screening every newborn for hearing loss prior to hospital discharge. Infants not passing the screening receive diagnostic evaluation before three months of age and, when necessary, are enrolled in early intervention programs by six months of age. All 50 states and the District of Columbia have Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) laws or voluntary compliance programs that screen hearing. It is a communication disorder. Hearing loss, also known as hard of hearing, anacusis or hearing impairment, is a partial or total inability to hear. It may occur in one or both ears. In children hearing problems can affect the ability to learn language and in adults it can cause work related difficulties. In some people, particularly older people, hearing loss can result in loneliness. Deafness is typically used to refer to those with only little or no hearing.
Hearing loss may be caused by a number of factors, including: genetics, ageing, exposure to noise, some infections, birth complications, trauma to the ear, and certain medications or toxins. A common infection that results in hearing loss is chronic ear infections. Certain infections during pregnancy such as rubella may also cause problems. Hearing loss is diagnosed when hearing testing finds that a person is unable to hear 25 decibels in at least one ear. Testing for poor hearing is recommended for all newborns. Hearing loss can be categorised as mild, moderate, severe, or profound.
Globally hearing loss affects about 10% of the population to some degree. It caused moderate to severe disability in 124.2 million people as of 2004 (107.9 million of whom are in low and middle income countries). Of these 65 million acquired the condition during childhood. At birth ~3 per 1000 in developed countries and more than 6 per 1000 in developing countries have hearing problems. Hearing loss increases with age. In those between 20 and 35 rates of hearing loss are 3% while in those 44 to 55 it is 11% and in those 65 to 85 it is 43%.