April 3, 2007

Information from infant hearing screenings will appear on children’s medical charts beginning May 11 at five community clinics in Los Angeles under a new program called Baby Sound Check.

The program, a collaborative effort driven by John Tracy Clinic (www.jtc.org) will conduct a demonstration screening May 11 as part of Better Hearing and Speech Month. The screenings will assess both the inner and middle ear functions.

 “As many as 30 to 50% of babies who do not pass hospital screenings at birth slip through the cracks,” says Christine Gilmore Eubanks, PhD, an audiologist at John Tracy Clinic (JTC) and director of the program. “This situation has created a critical need to test babies at community clinics where many parents already take their children for their regular check-ups.”

Because the once cost-prohibitive technology for infant screening has become more affordable programs like Baby Sound Check can be made more accessible to the public, according to JTC. The program plans to assess and monitor the hearing health of over 10,000 children at the participating clinics in its first three years.

Early detection and intervention have been shown to cause marked improvement in a deaf child’s overall academic and social development, saving as much as $500,000 per child in special education costs through high school, according to JTC.
“There are significant gaps in state newborn hearing screening procedures caused by babies with fluid in the ears, later onset hearing loss and lack of consistent follow-up,” says Eubanks. ”Baby Sound Check is designed to fill these gaps.”

Children suspected of hearing loss will be referred to John Tracy Clinic for free comprehensive diagnostic evaluation, appropriate referral and follow-up.  If significant hearing loss is confirmed, the families will be given guidance and information by JTC counselors and audiologists.  Parents of children identified through the program will be assigned a case manager and invited to join JTC’s free Parent/Infant Program.

Baby Sound Check has been endorsed by a broad coalition of policy makers and healthcare professionals, including the Los Angeles Unified School District, the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles and the National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management (NCHAM).

For more information about the screening demonstration call 877-GO2ALTA or visit www.altamed.com.