Newborn Hearing Screening and Intervention Program
The Pennsylvania Newborn Hearing Screening and Intervention program seeks to assure that all newborns:
- are screened for hearing loss within the first 30 days,
- are diagnosed within three months, and
- receive prescribed treatment or intervention services within six months of birth.
These standards are consistent with The Infant Hearing Education, Assessment, Reporting and Referral (IHEARR) Act (Act 89 of 2001) as well as the Health Resources and Services Administration's and Healthy People 2020 Objectives on Newborn Hearing Screening.
Newborns receive an initial hearing screening while still in the hospital.
Infants who do not pass the initial screen, receive follow-up re-screening at the hospital, often as an outpatient.
If an infant does not pass the re-screening, his/her primary care provider (PCP) is notified. The PCP directs and coordinates the follow-up evaluation and referral process within the child's medical home. Usually, the PCP refers the infant to an audiologist with expertise in the evaluation of infant hearing loss for a diagnostic evaluation.
If hearing loss is diagnosed, the PCP should discuss with the parents/guardians that children with a hearing difference are at risk of language delays and that there is a system of support in Pennsylvania to prevent such delays:
The Department of Health performs follow-up and tracking of infants not passing their follow-up re-screening. Department staff determines whether appropriate assessment and evaluation is completed in a timely fashion and that infants receive the prescribed treatment and intervention. Infants identified as being at risk of delayed onset hearing loss receive continued monitoring as appropriate.
The department also administers infant hearing screening educational outreach and training workshops for nurses, audiologists, physicians, early intervention staff, and other concerned professionals.
Children with hearing loss need brain access to the information they miss due to their hearing diagnosis. Children can gain this brain access through all of their senses. Information can get into a child's brain with their eyes through a visual language and through their ears with residual hearing and technology. Resources and available supports include Early Intervention, Family Connections for Language and Learning, Medical Assistance, and different support groups that are available in Pennsylvania.