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Newborn Hearing Screening

Early Hearing Detection and Intervention

Hearing loss is the most frequently occurring birth defect that affects up to 3 in 1,000 infants at birth and up to 9 in 1,000 children by school age. If undetected, hearing loss will impact a child’s social, emotional, educational, language, and communication development. Over ten year ago, many states began programs to assure that all newborns are tested for hearing loss after birth so that they can be provided with necessary services to help in their development.

What is the Illinois newborn hearing screening program?

The Newborn Hearing Screening or Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Program is a collaborative effort among the Illinois Department of Public Health, Illinois Department of Human Services Early Intervention Program and the University of Illinois at Chicago Division of Specialized Care for Children . Over the past two decades, great progress has been made in screening the hearing of every newborn in Illinois, which started December 31, 2002. Now, about 98% of babies born in Illinois hospitals get a hearing screen shortly after birth. If a baby does not pass the newborn screen, further testing or a referral to a pediatric audiologist is necessary to determine if the baby may have a hearing loss. The Illinois EHDI Program coordinates follow-up efforts to assure that every baby born in Illinois is screened for hearing loss and also receives proper follow-up testing in a timely manner. When a hearing loss is identified, the EHDI Program helps assure that care coordinate and follow up intervention services are offered to families.

Why is newborn hearing screening important?

With appropriate diagnosis and early intervention, a child with a hearing loss can be given the chance to reach the same developmental levels as their typically hearing peers by kindergarten age. The goals of the EHDI Program are:

  • assure that screening of every infant occurs no later than 1 month of age;
  • identify every child with a hearing loss no later than 3 months of age; and
  • provide appropriate family centered intervention no later than 6 months of age

Therefore, every parent and medical provider should ask for a written report of their child’s hearing screening results. If a child did not pass the screening test the following resources are available:

  • Pediatric audiologists to assist with follow-up:
  • Care coordination and financial assistance for children with a diagnosed hearing loss: The University of Illinois Division of Specialized Care for Children at or 800-322-3722

For more information about the Illinois EHDI program partners please refer to the Web sites listed below.