The Infant Hearing Program assists families of babies who do not pass a newborn hearing screening to complete a diagnostic audiological evaluation and provides a referral for early intervention services if hearing loss/deafness is found. Follow up coordination is provided by our program so that babies have the best start in life.
The Ohio Department of Health’s Infant Hearing Program follows the goals of the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing (JCIH) for Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI). These goals include newborn hearing screening, diagnostic audiological evaluation and referral for early intervention. Ohio’s EHDI program follows the 0-3-6month goals per the Ohio Revised Code 3701.509 and Ohio Administrative Code 3701-40.
The first goal (0 Months) is to ensure all newborns receive a hearing screening before hospital discharge. Legislation in Ohio requires all babies a receive the hearing screening before hospital discharge to find risk for hearing loss. Each baby receives the first hearing screening and if there is a non pass result, a required second hearing screening is done before discharge. If the second hearing screening is a non pass result, additional testing is needed.
The next step after newborn hearing screening should occur shortly after discharge and before 3 Months and this is the second goal of EHDI. Babies who do not pass the newborn hearing screening are seen by a pediatric audiologist found in the Pediatric Audiology Services Directory for more detailed testing. This testing is a diagnostic audiological evaluation that uses several tests to find hearing loss in each ear.
The final goal should occur by 6 Months or sooner. Once hearing loss or deafness is identified, babies are referred for Early Intervention services. Early Intervention is coordinated with another partner agency called the Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD). Families are offered home-based, early intervention services to help with the development of communication and language.
The Infant Hearing Program also provides follow up tracking and helps coordinate care, such as assisting with finding diagnostic audiology sites and assist with enrolling in early intervention services. Our program contacts the baby’s doctor and parents by letters and phone calls made by a parent organization. We maintain contact to assure babies receive the diagnostic audiology testing and also help families understand the importance of early intervention and communication.
Early identification of hearing loss/deafness paired with early intervention services allows for the baby to develop communication, language and/or speech skills in a language that is chosen by the family.
The time period for speech, language, and communication development is between birth and three years old. The earlier a child’s hearing loss is identified or found, the sooner a child can begin developing communication skills. Missing hearing loss may affect a child’s language development, educational achievement, literacy levels and social-emotional development. It’s important for babies and children to meet developmental milestones close to their hearing peers and for children with hearing loss/deafness to thrive academically, socially and emotionally. The goals of the Ohio EHDI program allow for babies to have the best start in life and meet communication and language goals for school readiness.