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Notice to Readers: Better Hearing and Speech Month --- May 2008

Hearing loss affects one to three of 1,000 live-born infants annually (1,2). Without intervention at an early age, hearing loss can delay speech, language, social skills, and academic achievement. Therefore, all infants should be screened for hearing loss by age 1 month but preferably before leaving the birth hospital. All states and territories offer hearing screening for newborns. Any infant who does not pass the hearing screening should have a full hearing evaluation by age 3 months. If hearing loss is confirmed, the child should be referred for needed medical tests and begin intervention services by age 6 months (3). Following this 1-, 3-, 6-month plan for these children can maximize communication and language development (4,5). Information on CDC's Early Hearing Detection and Intervention programs is available at


  1. Finitzo T, Albright K, O'Neal J. The newborn with hearing loss: detection in the nursery. Pediatrics 1998;102:1452--60.
  2. Van Naarden K, Decouflé P, Caldwell K. Prevalence and characteristics of children with serious hearing impairment in metropolitan Atlanta, 1991--1993. Pediatrics 1999;103:570--5.
  3. Joint Committee on Infant Hearing. Year 2007 position statement: principles and guidelines for Early Hearing Detection and Intervention programs. Pediatrics 2007;120:898--921.
  4. Kennedy C, McCann D, Campbell MJ, Kimm L, Thornton R. Universal newborn screening for permanent childhood hearing impairment: an 8-year follow-up of a controlled trial. Lancet 2005;366:660--2.
  5. Moeller MP. Early intervention and language development in children who are deaf and hard of hearing. Pediatrics 2000;106:e43.

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Date last reviewed: 5/1/2008


Safer, Healthier People

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
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