Report on Newborn Screening Draws Criticism ASHA has expressed disappointment at a recent report by a task force of private-sector primary care practitioners that concluded “insufficient evidence” exists linking newborn hearing screening with “clinically important” improvements in children’s speech and language skills. The panel—known as the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force—is part of the Department of ... On the Pulse
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On the Pulse  |   November 01, 2001
Report on Newborn Screening Draws Criticism
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Special Populations / Early Identification & Intervention / On the Pulse
On the Pulse   |   November 01, 2001
Report on Newborn Screening Draws Criticism
The ASHA Leader, November 2001, Vol. 6, 1-15. doi:10.1044/leader.OTP.06212001.1
The ASHA Leader, November 2001, Vol. 6, 1-15. doi:10.1044/leader.OTP.06212001.1
ASHA has expressed disappointment at a recent report by a task force of private-sector primary care practitioners that concluded “insufficient evidence” exists linking newborn hearing screening with “clinically important” improvements in children’s speech and language skills.
The panel—known as the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force—is part of the Department of Health and Human Services and focuses on issues related to preventative care. It is supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
“It should come as no surprise that the same task force which, until recently, was reluctant to recommend mammography screenings for women should approach newborn hearing screening in so conservative a manner,” said ASHA President John E. Bernthal.
In developing its report, the panel ignored the recommendations in support of early hearing detection and intervention programs by the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The panel overlooked important non-medical research, Bernthal said, noting that the panel’s conclusions “are inconsistent with good clinical practices and may be misinterpreted by consumers, insurers, legislators, and employers.”
Although the panel acknowledged the benefits of newborn hearing screening in the “earlier identification and treatment of infants with hearing loss,” the group concluded that “evidence is insufficient to recommend for or against routine screening of newborns for hearing loss during the postpartum hospitalization.” The recommendations also questioned the effectiveness of early hearing intervention in improving language outcomes. The statement noted “significant methodological flaws” in the research and the lack of “prospective, controlled studies that directly examine” whether screening and related intervention aid speech, language, or educational development.
Although ASHA supports additional research on newborn hearing screening, ethical considerations would prevent studies such as randomized controlled trials. “The level of evidence the task force is seeking is stringent, and leads one to question whether randomized studies on American children with hearing loss is ethically appropriate,” Bernthal said. In addition, since many screening programs have only recently been implemented, ASHA questions whether sufficient time has passed to conduct in-depth, prospective studies.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Osteopathic Association, the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, and the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing are on record as supporting EHDI programs.
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November 2001
Volume 6, Issue 21