An Overview: Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act of 2015

Posted by:gulf onApril 23, 2017

By Dez Duran-Lamanilao

Sponsored by Representative Brett Guthrie, the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act (EHDI) of 2015 (H.R. 1344) amends the Public Health Service Act to expand programs for deaf and hard-of-hearing newborns and infants to include young children. Consequently, the programs have been modified and reauthorized for FY2016-FY2020.

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What does EHDI mean for infants and young children?

The EHDI aims to conduct hearing screening of all newborns before they reach one month, confirm their hearing status by three months, and enroll them in an early intervention program by six months. Organizations involved in supporting government programs centered on hearing loss prevention and management raise the issue of the lack of follow-ups after the babies are released by the hospitals even if they have already undergone hearing screenings.

What is the importance of a hearing screening follow-up?

In some cases, babies who pass hearing screening may develop or acquire hearing problems later on. If left unobserved or untreated, their condition may result to hearing loss, which will be harder for both the children and their parents to deal with.

An article by James W. Hall III, Ph.D., that appeared in a 2016 issue of “The Journal of Early Hearing Detection and Intervention” suggests a promising alternative for systematic hearing screening of preschool children aged six months to five years: otoacoustic emissions (OAEs). As the EHDI process supposedly has its flaws, Hall recommends preschool hearing screening as a viable strategy for early detection of hearing loss beyond the newborn period.

The EHDI Act aims to provide deaf and hard-of-hearing infants, newborns and young children access to specialized early intervention programs so they can meet their linguistic and cognitive potential. Parents may seek professional help and advice from experts in the field to guide them in their responsibility to ensure that their children receive proper care and guidance.

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