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Identifying Babies with Hearing Loss

Each year in the U.S., thousands of babies are born with a hearing loss. An undetected hearing loss can affect a child's ability to develop communication, language, and social skills.

Chart: Status of Babies that Did Not Pass Final Hearing ScreeningTo help identify babies with hearing loss, all states and U.S. territories have established Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) programs. EHDI programs help ensure that babies are screened and receive recommended follow-up services, such as diagnostic tests and intervention services, through data collection and outreach to hospitals, providers, and families.

Since the organized collection of data from EHDI programs started, clear progress has been made in identifying and providing early intervention services to babies with hearing loss. For example, the reported mean percentage of babies screened for hearing loss increased from 46.5% in 1999 to 97.9% in 2010.

In 2005, 64.0% of babies who had not passed the hearing screening were reported as being loss to follow-up (LFU) / loss to documentation (LTD). These babies were not documented as having received the recommended follow-up testing needed to confirm if they had a hearing loss. Some of these babies might have received follow-up testing, but the results were not reported and their status could not be determined from available data.

By 2010, LFU/LTD among babies not passing the screening had decreased to approximately 39.4.%. Also in 2010, over 4,900 babies were documented as being diagnosed with a permanent hearing loss, which is nearly double the number of babies reported by EHDI programs in 2005.

These findings show that progress continues to be made towards ensuring babies receive recommended hearing screening, diagnostic, and intervention services as soon as possible. 

Data Sources:

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  • Page last updated: July 3, 2012 The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
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