Early Hearing Detection & Intervention
Michigan Department of Community Health has received two federal grants to develop a statewide system for newborn hearing services. For more information about these services, visit Michigan’s Early Hearing Detection & Intervention web site.
Hearing loss continues to be the most common birth defect in America. Each year more than 12,000 infants in the United States, one in 300, are born with some form of hearing loss. Universal newborn hearing screening is necessary because only half of the babies born with hearing loss exhibit a risk factor for hearing loss.
In a 1998 report to Congress and the President, the Commission on Education of the Deaf estimated that in the United States, the average age that children with congenital hearing loss were identified was 2 to 3 years of age, with many children not being identified until 5 or 6 years of age! When infants are not identified and do not receive early intervention, the most critical time for stimulating the auditory pathways to the hearing center is lost. For the child, this means significantly delayed speech and language development. Recent research shows that infants born with a hearing loss, who are identified and given appropriate intervention before six months of age, have significantly better language skills than those identified after six months of age. Identification of hearing loss in newborns and young children is dependent on early hearing screening at birthing hospitals, community follow–up services connecting families to diagnostic centers, and accessibility to pediatric audiological diagnostic centers.
The Michigan Department of Community Health, Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program (MDCH/EDHI) began in 1997 and in 2000 the Department was awarded two federal grants (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Maternal Child Health Bureau). The program has made tremendous strides in a short time.
- At the time the program started, in 1997, less than 5% of children in the state of Michigan had a hearing screen reported. By 2002, 97% of all Michigan children have a hearing screen reported to the program.
- Even though newborn screening is voluntary in Michigan, all but one of 99 Michigan birthing centers are currently screening all newborn infants for hearing loss.
Identifying a possible hearing loss is only the beginning. The MDCH/EHDI program works collaboratively with the Michigan Department of Education, Early On Michigan to ensure families with children identified with hearing loss have the opportunity to participate in early intervention services. All children reported to MDCH/EHDI are referred to a local Early On Coordinator.
- The average age when a child is enrolled in services has dropped from 10 months in 2000 to within 3 months in 2002.
- 97% of babies who have a hearing screening pass. Only 3% need further testing to determine if hearing loss is present.
Even though Michigan has made great strides in newborn screening and early intervention, there is more work to do:
- Efforts continue to increase the proportion of newborns who are screened for hearing loss by age 1 month, have audiologic evaluation by age 3 months, and are enrolled in appropriate intervention services by age 6 months.
- Statewide development of the EHDI program is currently funded through federal grants. Issues regarding sustainability of the program will need to be addressed before 2005.
- Voluntary screening and reporting is not sufficient. 38 states have laws mandating these services. In this respect, Michigan lags behind.
- Currently audiologists, and specifically pediatric audiologists, are not licensed in Michigan. Licensure will provide parents the assurance that the person testing their child is qualified.