NH DHHS - Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program to Be Expanded

Concord, NH - The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Division of Public Health Services established the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program (EHDI) in 2000. All hospitals in New Hampshire that have birth facilities developed newborn screening programs. In 2007, 98% of infants born in New Hampshire were screened for hearing loss. The goal is to expand the program to several more towns to cover a wider geographic area.

“The Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program is a major change and improvement in the delivery of public health here in New Hampshire,” said DHHS Commissioner Nicholas Toumpas. “Before 2000, children were only screened when someone suspected they might have a hearing problem, which could have been going on for quite a while by the time it was discovered. This program enables much earlier intervention and screening.”

In the first 9 months of the EHDI Program, the family advocate attempted to contact families of 134 infants. Of these, 25 had moved or were not interested in testing; 109 were followed. Sixty-nine of those had hearing within normal limits, 8 had a confirmed hearing loss, and 32 did not complete testing.

“Language is one of the keys to learning for infants and young children,” said Mary Ann Cooney, Director of Public Health. “We have the technology to screen and help infants who have hearing loss and we have already seen this program make a big difference.”

The EHDI Program is one of the topics DHHS is focusing on this week in recognition of National Public Health Week. For more information about this program, call 1-800-852-3345 x1037 or visit the Maternal and Child Health section of the DHHS website at www.dhhs.nh.gov/DHHS/MCH/default.htm.

For more information about National Public Health Week visit www.nphw.org.