The New York State Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Demonstration Project: Ages of Hearing Loss Identification, Hearing Aid Fitting, and Enrollment in Early Intervention


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Abstract

Objective:To determine the ages of hearing loss identification, hearing aid fitting, and enrollment in early intervention through a multi-center, state-wide universal newborn hearing screening project.Design:Universal newborn hearing screening was conducted at eight hospitals across New York State. All infants who did not bilaterally pass hearing screening before discharge were recalled for outpatient retesting. Inpatient screening and outpatient rescreening were done with transient evoked otoacoustic emissions and/or auditory brain stem response testing. Diagnostic testing was performed with age appropriate tests, auditory brain stem response and/or visual reinforcement audiometry. Infants diagnosed with permanent hearing loss were considered for hearing aids and early intervention. Ages of hearing loss identification, hearing aid fitting, and enrollment in early intervention were investigated regarding nursery type, risk status, unilateral versus bilateral hearing loss, loss type, loss severity, and state regions.Results:The prevalence of infants diagnosed with permanent hearing loss was 2.0/1000 (85 of 43,311). Of the 85 infants with hearing loss, 61% were from neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) and 67% were at risk for hearing loss. Of the 36 infants fitted with hearing aids, 58% were from NICUs and 78% were at risk for hearing loss. The median age at identification and enrollment in early intervention was 3 mo. Median age at hearing aid fitting was 7.5 mo. Median ages at identification were less for infants from the well-baby nurseries (WBNs) than for the NICU infants and for infants with severe/profound than for infants with mild/moderate hearing loss, but were similar for not-at-risk and at-risk infants. Median ages at hearing aid fitting were less for well babies than for NICU infants, for not-at-risk infants than for at-risk infants, and for infants with severe/profound hearing loss than for infants with mild/moderate hearing loss. However, median ages at early intervention enrollment were similar for nursery types, risk status, and severity of hearing loss.Conclusions:Early ages of hearing loss identification, hearing aid fitting, and enrollment in early intervention can be achieved for infants from NICUs and WBNs and for infants at risk and not at risk for hearing loss in a large multi-center universal newborn hearing screening program.

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