Early Hearing Detection and Intervention

(EHDI) Hearing loss is the most common congenital condition in the United States. Each year, an estimated three in 1,000 infants are born in the U.S. with hearing loss.

The most crucial period for language development is the first year of life. Without newborn screening, hearing loss is typically not identified until two years of age. Screening for all newborns prior to discharge from the hospital or birthing center is essential for the earliest possible identification of hearing loss and, consequently, for language, communication, educational and reading potential to be maximized.

More than half of babies born with hearing problems are otherwise healthy and have no family history of hearing loss.  If a baby has a hearing loss, you can still help them develop language skills. The sooner you act, the better the outcome.  Screening for hearing loss as early as possible is important because:

  • Early screening allows for early treatment, if hearing loss is detected
  • Early intervention can provide earlier language stimulation for a baby’s brain
What does the EHDI program do?

The EHDI Program maintains and supports a comprehensive, coordinated, statewide screening and referral system.

EHDI includes screening for hearing loss in the birthing hospital; referral of those who do not pass the hospital screening for rescreening; for newborns who do not pass the rescreening referral for diagnostic audiological evaluation; and, linkage to appropriate intervention for those babies diagnosed with hearing loss. Technical assistance and training about implementing and maintaining a quality newborn hearing screening program is provided to hospitals, primary care physicians, audiologists, early interventionists, and public health staff.

A suspected or confirmed case of hearing loss in children from birth to age 5 is a notifiable disease, and must be reported to the Department of Public Health.

The Role of the Medical Home is responsible for ensuring appropriate and timely referrals to providers that are capable of performing evaluations and are knowledgeable in congenital hearing impairment. This can be achieved by:
  • Obtain written results of newborn hearing screening from birthing facility on all newborns
  • By one month of age, ensure that all newborns have at minimum one hearing screening. If infant “referred” inpatient hearing screening, a secondary follow-up screening should be completed by one month of age
  • Before 3 months of age, ensure that infants “referring” secondary screening complete audiological diagnostic evaluation. Refer to a provider that can complete a diagnostic ABR
  • Provide referrals to early intervention, otolaryngologist, ophthalmologist and genetics after diagnosis of permanent hearing impairment
  • Manage otitis media with effusion
  • Closely monitor for signs of hearing loss for infants who pass newborn hearing screening and refer for audiological evaluation per JCIH recommendations, developmental/speech delay, or parental concern, as hearing loss may develop at any age.
To help locate a provider or health department that offers rescreens or diagnostic audiological testing, please visit the EHDI Facility Finder or CDC’s EHDI PALS.

Physicians providing follow-up screenings to newborns not passing the initial hearing screening are required to report any follow-up screening results to the Department of Public Health.  Screening results can be reported through SendSS or by faxing a completed C1st Screening and Referral Form and sending to the EHDI District Coordinator for the district that the family resides.

Additional Resources listed at EHDI website 

Have You Heard? Brochure 

Hearing Screening Brochure 

Newborn Screening Brochure (English)

Newborn Screening Brochure (Spanish)

Contact Information:

Newborn Screening Program

2 Peachtree Street, NW

11th Floor

Atlanta, GA 30303

(p) 404-657-4143

(f) 404-657-2773