Efforts to provide hearing screening, diagnostic, and early-intervention services for newborns and infants showed sustained improvements between 2006 and 2012, demonstrated an analysis published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR; 2015;64:351-356http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6413a4.htm).
More infants were screened for hearing loss and received recommended follow-up services in 2012 compared with 2006, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found. This information is important for the public health administrators and staff members who manage infant hearing programs and the healthcare providers who see these young patients and report results.
The number of infants known to be diagnosed with permanent hearing loss also increased, the researchers reported. Among newborns who did not pass the hearing screening test, more were identified early with permanent hearing loss in 2012 compared with 2006 (10.3% vs. 4.8%, respectively).
In addition, a higher percentage of infants diagnosed with permanent hearing loss were confirmed to be receiving early intervention services in 2012 than in 2006 (61.7% vs. 55.4%, respectively). These improvements are the result of continuing efforts and collaboration by federal and state public health/hearing programs, service organizations, healthcare professionals, involved parents, and other advocates.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is supporting partners in their ongoing work to develop electronic data systems, which help ensure that infants with permanent hearing loss are identified early and receive recommended intervention services. As part of this effort, the CDC is helping connect public health and clinical preventive services to improve health outcomes for children.
Such connections can assist in addressing the needs of infants and children with permanent hearing loss through the following activities:
- Ensure that infants diagnosed with permanent hearing loss are documented as receiving recommended intervention services.
- Increase the ability for data sharing between child health data systems and providers to advance the collection and exchange of standardized information.
- Collect and analyze data to assess progress toward meeting the needs of infants and children with permanent hearing loss, and highlight areas for continued improvement.
Healthcare providers, audiologists, and others involved in newborn hearing screening, diagnostic testing, and early intervention can maintain or increase the quality of data by consistently reporting results to their local Early Hearing Detection and Intervention program. This information is crucial to offering effective services for healthcare providers and families.