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Keywords:

  • hearing;
  • midwifery;
  • neonatal screening;
  • newborn

ABSTRACT

Universal newborn hearing screening is becoming the standard of care in the United States. However, there has been some controversy around this pediatric preventive health care practice. In 2001, the US Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF), the leading independent panel of experts on prevention and primary care in the United States, reviewed the scientific literature and found inconclusive evidence to recommend for or against universal newborn hearing screening. As a result of this lack of recommendation, some pediatric providers were not screening the hearing of all newborn infants. The USPSTF released an update in July 2008 concluding there is scientific evidence to recommend newborn hearing screening for all infants. Universal newborn hearing screening is the first step in the national Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) program. EHDI includes not only universal newborn hearing screening but also diagnostic evaluation for any infant failing the initial hearing screen and intervention services for any infant diagnosed with hearing loss. During the prenatal and postnatal periods, obstetric care providers can play a vital role in the EHDI process through education, screening, referral, and assistance with follow-up. Through these services, clinicians can work with parents and pediatric care providers to help newborns and infants develop communication and language skills that will last a lifetime.