DEAR ABBY: In a recent column, writers expressed concerns about early hearing screening for newborns and young children. Your readers should know that Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (known as the EHDI program) is a nationwide priority supported by several federal agencies, state governments, and most hospitals that offer obstetrics/delivery services.
We at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are proud to be a part of this effort. We have long advocated screening to detect hearing loss. Early intervention gives children the best possible start in life.
Most states and territories have EHDI programs that support efforts to detect hearing loss in babies early. The foundation of the EHDI program is the 1-3-6 Plan, whose goals ensure that:
-- Babies are screened for hearing loss before 1 month of age (ideally before the baby leaves the hospital).
-- Babies are referred for diagnostic hearing and medical evaluation before 3 months of age (if they do not pass the first screening or a re-screening).
-- Babies are enrolled in intervention services before 6 months of age if a hearing loss is identified.
The importance of early intervention cannot be overstated. Early detection and intervention help very young children develop vital communication skills that will last a lifetime, and maximize their potential for positive growth. -- JOSE F. CORDERO, M.D., DIRECTOR, NATIONAL CENTER ON BIRTH DEFECTS AND DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES
DEAR DR. CORDERO: Your letter will be of interest to parents-to-be, so thank you for taking the time to write. Readers, for more information on EHDI or how to contact your state or territorial EHDI program, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site: www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/ehdi.