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February 18, 2003

Hearing check for newborns pays off later

From: Denver Rocky Mountain News, CO - 18 Feb 2003

More than 80% with loss found at birth keep pace

By Jim Erickson, Rocky Mountain News
February 18, 2003

More than 80 percent of Colorado infants with hearing loss detected at birth go on to achieve normal language skills by the age of 5, a University of Colorado researcher said Monday.

But deaf and hearing-impaired Colorado infants who were not screened at birth have a 32 percent chance of attaining normal language skills, said Christine Yoshinaga-Itano, chairwoman of speech, language and hearing sciences at CU.

Detecting and treating hearing loss within six months of birth appear to be a critical predictor of future performance - especially when it comes to vocabulary development, Yoshinaga-Itano said at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Denver.

"If you catch them by 6 months, they have a very good chance of normal language development and of entering kindergarten ready to learn like every other child," she said.

"And that's pretty astonishing, given the disability they are born with," Yoshinaga-Itano added.

Colorado was one of the first states to require hearing screening of newborns.

University of Colorado Hospital and Boulder Community Hospital made screening mandatory in 1992. Since 2001, all of the state's more than 60 birthing hospitals have screened newborns.

Yoshinaga-Itano studied 294 deaf or hearing-

impaired Colorado infants, some screened at the hospital and some not. Those who were screened had earlier access to hearing aids, counseling and sign-language teachers.

The children were followed to the age of 5. Among those screened at the hospital, 82.4 percent acquired language skills appropriate to their age, compared with 31.6 percent for the non-screened group.

2003 © The E.W. Scripps Co.