Maryland Law Mandates Audio Testing for Babies
Beginning in July 2000, all babies born at Anne Arundel Medical Center's Clatanoff Pavilion will be screened for hearing impairment. The screenings are in response to a bill passed during the last legislative session that mandates audio testing of all babies born in Maryland.
"Fifty percent of children in Maryland are not identified by the current high risk screen," said Karen Peddicord, R.N., Ph.D., clinical administrator for AAMC's women's and children's services. "The average age of identification is between two-and-a-half and three years old, which is after the critical periods for language development."
This lag in the diagnosis of a child's hearing disability will be reduced under the new law, which calls for babies to be screened shortly after delivery. The tests will be conducted under the auspices of the Hearing Assessment Center, with supervision by an audiologist.
The test uses otoacoustics emission testing from a machine wheeled into the baby's room. A small earpiece is attached to the infant's ear to determine sensitivity to various levels of sound. The test takes just seconds, with results given to the parent immediately and communicated to the child's pediatrician for his or her medical record.
The legislation was introduced by Maryland Senators John Astle, Thomas Bromwell, Arthur Dorman and Jean W. Roesser. Other states with similar legislation are Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Rhode Island, Virginia and West Virginia. Hearing impairment is the most common disability in newborns, with 24,000 hearing-impaired babies born in the United States each year. AAMC's Clatanoff Pavilion has the fourth highest birth rate in the state of Maryland, with 3,800 babies born here in 1999.