In 1993, children born in the U.S. were screened for hearing loss before being discharged only if they were at risk, and half of those who were eventually found to have profound hearing loss were missed until they were older. At a landmark NIH consensus development conference, experts endorsed the hearing screening of all newborns for hearing loss before they leave the hospital. Combined with similar recommendations by the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing, and further research and workshops supported by the NIDCD, universal newborn hearing screening began in 1999, when President Clinton signed the Newborn and Infant Hearing Screening and Intervention Act, authorizing the coordination and funding of statewide newborn and infant hearing screening programs. In December 2010, President Obama expanded the funding to include diagnostic services. Now, about 98 percent of all U.S. newborns are screened for hearing loss prior to discharge from the hospital, providing them with much greater opportunities for early and life-changing care.
The NIDCD has many resources in English and in Spanish for parents and caregivers to answer questions you might have about hearing screening for children, including:
- It's Important to Have Your Baby's Hearing Screened
- What to Do if Your Baby's Screening Reveals a Possible Hearing Problem
- Your Baby's Hearing and Communicative Development Checklist
- Communication Considerations—for parents of children with hearing loss
- Cochlear Implants—surgically implanted hearing devices