The Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) program helps to establish statewide plans that identify children with hearing loss, directing them to early intervention services. This vital program includes initial screening of infants for hearing loss, audiological diagnostic evaluations to confirm hearing loss, and early intervention. At the first signs of hearing loss, it is imperative that children receive medical services, early intervention programs, and family support. This early intervention enhances language, communication, cognitive and social skill development.
At the time the Child Health Act of 2000 was passed, thereby establishing the EHDI program, only 40 percent of newborns were being screened. Yet with today’s program, approximately 96 percent of newborns receive audiologic screening – 4 million infants and children in the year 2013 alone.
Nearly 33 children are born every day with hearing impairment, making it the most common congenital condition in the United States. Failure to reauthorize EHDI would leave thousands of children with undiagnosed hearing loss. It would also deprive children from interventions that improve their language skills and development – interventions that they desperately need.
Earlier this year, legislation (H.R. 1539/S. 652) was reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate to reauthorize the EHDI program for an additional five years. The AAO-HNS supports swift passage of this critical public health legislation.