Abby Meyer, MD, MPH, FAAP
A study conducted through a collaboration between MNAAP Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Chapter Champion Abby Meyer, MD, MPH, and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) EHDI personnel was published in the March 20, 2020 edition of the CDC publication Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The study looked at disparities with regard to timing of identification of hearing loss among 729 infants born in Minnesota from 2012-2016 who were identified as deaf or hard of hearing (DHH). Based on the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing benchmark of identification of hearing loss by 3 months of age, 30.4 percent of DHH infants had delayed identification of hearing loss. Infants were more likely to have delayed identification of hearing loss if they had 1) low birthweight, 2) public insurance, 3) a residence outside the metropolitan area, 4) a mother with a lower level of education, 5) a mother aged <25 years, or 6) a mother who was Hmong.
Disparities in timely identification of hearing loss exist among infants who are DHH in Minnesota. Delayed identification might lead to delay in initiation of Early Intervention services, which has been shown to result in poorer language outcomes in children identified as DHH. More work is needed to understand the barriers to audiologic follow-up in these identified at-risk populations. Pediatricians are in an optimal position to enhance messaging about the need for follow-up after newborn hearing screening and are in a position to encourage or even facilitate scheduling of follow-up appointments for diagnostic hearing testing.