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Hearing Screening for Newborns: The Midwife's Role in Early Hearing Detection and Intervention

Authors

  • Krista Biernath MD,

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    • Krista Biernath, MD, is a pediatrician and serves as a medical officer for the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program within the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, GA.

  • W. June Holstrum PhD,

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    • W. June Holstrum, PhD, is an Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Consultant for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA. She has 30 years of experience in the areas of child development, early childhood special education, parenting education, and developmental psychology. Dr. Holstrum was the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Team Lead from 1998 to 2002.

  • John Eichwald MA

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    • John Eichwald, MA, is presently the Team Lead for the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program within the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, GA. Mr. Eichwald has more than 25 years of experience as a pediatric clinical audiologist in public health, education, and the private sector.


Krista Biernath, MD, Medical Officer, Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Team, National Centers on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Mailstop E-88, 1600 Clifton Rd., Atlanta, GA 30333. E-mail: kbiernath@cdc.gov

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.

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