JHMI Office of Communications and Public Affairs

July 1, 2000

For press inquiriesonly, please call (410) 955-6680.

Universal Newborn Hearing Screening in Maryland

The tests are simple and inexpensive and can produce life-changing results, yet more than half of the 50 states do not require universal hearing screenings for newborn infants by law. On July 1, 2000, Maryland puts into effect such a law requiring hospitals to perform tests on all newborns to identify hearing loss prior to their discharge from the hospital. Currently, only infants at high risk for hearing loss -- due to a family history or pregnancy complications -- are screened.

According to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, each year 420 of the 70,000 infants in the state are born with a significant hearing loss. Approximately half leave the hospital with their condition undiagnosed because they have no apparent risk factors.

The 5-minute screening exposes infants to sounds and records the inner ears' responses. The average cost ranges from $30 to $50. The potential costs associated with the disability of deafness, however, are staggering. Research shows that early intervention -- compared to late intervention -- decreases the costs of special education and rehabilitation, and improves the child's literacy and education and vocation opportunities later in life.

The following Hopkins physicians are available for comment and interviews:

Families affected by the screening also should be available for comment and interviews.

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