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Infant Hearing-Loss Screenings Have Increased

Available data suggests that 97 percent were screened in 2007 versus 46.5 percent in 1999

MONDAY, March 8 (HealthDay News) -- Since 1999, the identification of infants with hearing loss may have significantly improved nationwide, according to a report published in the March 5 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Researchers from the CDC in Atlanta analyzed 1999 to 2007 surveillance data from the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) programs in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Although the researchers found that differences in data reporting and collection limited their ability to compare the 1999 to 2004 and 2005 to 2007 time periods, they reported that available data suggests the rate of infant screenings increased from 46.5 percent in 1999 to 97 percent in 2007. In 21 states that reported data in 2001 and 2007, they also found that the number of infants documented with hearing loss increased from 1,736 in 2001 to 2,212 in 2007.

"However, challenges remain in providing and documenting receipt of recommended EHDI services," the researchers write. "To address these challenges, federal funds are being used to enhance EHDI surveillance systems to capture more complete data, increase education and outreach efforts, and, in some states and territories, employ follow-up coordinators to ensure infants receive services. At the federal level, CDC, the Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel, and other agencies are exploring how electronic health records can facilitate EHDI data collection and reporting and working to develop data reporting standards."

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