Early Hearing Detection and Intervention is the process of screening the newborns for hearing loss. Screening typically occurs in the newborn nursery and newborn intensive care unit. 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.
Congenital hearing loss is relatively frequent and has serious negative consequences if it is not diagnosed and treated during the first few months of life. Babies with hearing loss who are identified early and provided with appropriate intervention develop better language, cognitive, and social skills.
As a result of improvements in screening equipment and procedures, newborn hearing screening programs have expanded rapidly in recent years, and almost 90% of all newborns are now screened for hearing loss before leaving the hospital. Because 50% or more of congenital hearing loss is due to genetic causes, providers of genetic services should play an increasingly important role in newborn hearing screening, diagnostic, and intervention services.
Congenital hearing loss, at a rate of approximately 3 per 1,000 births, occurs more frequently than other conditions for which newborns are routinely screened and for which early detection has proven to be beneficial.
The importance of early identification and treatment of congenital hearing loss is well established based on the prevalence of the condition, the negative consequences of not intervening, and the benefits associated with early intervention programs