Strengthening Early Screening

According to the CDC, currently around 98 percent of newborns are screened for hearing loss. Since 2005, more than 50,000 infants who are deaf and hard of hearing have been identified within the first year of life.

In October 2017, the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Act was signed into law. The law amends the Public Health Service Act to reauthorize until 2022 which is a federal program administered by HHS www.hhs.gov.

Three HHS agencies, to include HRSA www.hrsa.gov, CDC www.cdc.gov, and NIH www.nih.gov will continue partnering to coordinate and advance a national program for the early identification and diagnosis of hearing loss and intervention services for deaf and hard of hearing newborns and infants.

In addition, the law authorizes specific changes to the federal programs such as expanding the program to include young children who are at risk of losing their hearing during childhood from infections, harmful noise exposure, or genetic causes.

By reauthorizing EHDI, CDC will continue to provide funding and direct assistance to states and territories to support the development and use of state data systems. Under the new law, CDC will be responsible for collecting and reporting on data from state level programs.

The data collected improves program efficiency by helping the three HHS agencies to evaluate progress, guides research and policy development, and enables identifying where gaps in follow-up services are affecting children the most.

The law also encourages EHDI research programs at NIH through projects supported by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) www.nidcd.nih.gov.

The NIDCD supports biomedical research to improve both early hearing detection and intervention and hearing loss management. The law will also continue to support research on hearing aids, cochlear implants, speech perception and production, and language which includes language both spoken and signed.

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