Newborn Screening Act Needs Reauthorization Reauthorization of the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Act of 2007 (H.R. 1198, S. 1069) is coming up against a Nov. 16 deadline, the target adjournment date recently announced by the House of Representatives. A majority of members in the House and Senate must be on board to co-sponsor ... Policy Analysis
Free
Policy Analysis  |   October 01, 2007
Newborn Screening Act Needs Reauthorization
Author Notes
  • Dee Naquin Shafer, an assistant managing editor of The ASHA Leader, can be reached at dshafer@asha.org.
    Dee Naquin Shafer, an assistant managing editor of The ASHA Leader, can be reached at dshafer@asha.org.×
Article Information
Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / Policy Analysis
Policy Analysis   |   October 01, 2007
Newborn Screening Act Needs Reauthorization
The ASHA Leader, October 2007, Vol. 12, 1-6. doi:10.1044/leader.PA.12142007.1
The ASHA Leader, October 2007, Vol. 12, 1-6. doi:10.1044/leader.PA.12142007.1
Reauthorization of the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Act of 2007 (H.R. 1198, S. 1069) is coming up against a Nov. 16 deadline, the target adjournment date recently announced by the House of Representatives. A majority of members in the House and Senate must be on board to co-sponsor the legislation.
The Deaf and Hard of Hearing Alliance (DHHA), a coalition of professional and consumer organizations including ASHA, worked to move the legislation forward at a Sept. 18 congressional staff briefing. ASHA also is urging members to contact their representatives in support of the bill.
When the first EHDI legislation was approved in 2000, 44% of newborns were screened for hearing loss, a figure that has increased to more than 91.5%. The EHDI reauthorization is designed to address the fact that many children are not receiving appropriate follow-up services after screening.
Reps. Lois Capps (D-California) and Jim Walsh (R-New York), co-sponsors of the bill, kicked off the briefing. “Virtually all newborns are now screened through the simple process—and it has to be simple because I’ve done it myself,” joked Walsh, who discussed first learning of the need for EHDI from an audiologist in his district.
“With the change in Congress, this bill is still just as important because [hearing loss] is a non-partisan issue,” Capps said.
In Virginia, 97.8% of newborns receive a hearing screening, said Barry Strasnick, an otolaryngologist and professor at Eastern Virginia Medical School (Norfolk). Strasnick also chairs the state advisory committee for universal newborn hearing screening. One of the drawbacks to the program is that Virginia allows parents to opt out of screening, which some do for religious or other reasons, he said.
“The EHDI process needs to identify children with hearing loss and then link them to proper rehabilitation,” he said. Strasnick pointed to the lack of speech-language pathologists who are trained in working with hearing loss as one of the risk factors that allow children to “fall through the cracks.”
ASHA Legislative Council member Linda Jacobs-Condit, an AuD and clinical audiologist at the George Washington University Speech and Hearing Center (Washington, DC), called for better information to pediatricians.
“Identifying newborns with hearing loss can be delayed because some pediatricians say, ‘give it more time,’” she said. Jacobs-Condit also noted that infants may not be screened because not all birthing centers have proper equipment. She called for more AuDs to become involved in the process.
“The goal of early intervention is to empower families,” said Julie Mitchiner, an instructor with the education department at Gallaudet University (Washington, DC) and a doctoral student at George Mason University (Fairfax, Virginia). Mitchiner, who is deaf and uses American Sign Language, noted that early identification of hearing loss allowed her to develop bilingual capabilities in ASL and written English with her parents, who are deaf. Now her 15-month-old daughter, who is hearing, is also a bilingual learner.
Valerie Miller, the mother of a 1-year-old daughter with hearing loss, began her comments with ASL before switching to speech. Miller said she was completely unfamiliar with the issues of hearing loss before finding help through the Maryland School for the Deaf (Columbia). Her daughter, Faith, began signing at 7 months, while her husband and 3 ½-year-old son also are learning ASL.
“I was so fearful of losing almost three months of communication with my daughter,” Miller said. “But through early intervention, we have been able to give Faith the gift of language.”
0 Comments
Submit a Comment
Submit A Comment
Name
Comment Title
Comment


This feature is available to Subscribers Only
Sign In or Create an Account ×
FROM THIS ISSUE
October 2007
Volume 12, Issue 14