The American Hearing Research Foundation has developed a regional Infant Screening Program in the state of Illinois, designed to meet the vital need for early identification of hearing impairment on a mass scale. The four major components of the program include: 1. Application of the High Risk Register to the general newborn population, 2. Hearing Screening in the Intensive Care Nursery, 3. Electrophysiologic confirmation with Brain Stem Electric Response testing and 4. Subsequent and immediate remediation and/or habilitation. Brain Stem Electric Response Audiometry (BERA) has been shown to be an accurate and sensitive clinical tool for obtaining auditory thresholds in infants from birth. At the Donald T. Forsythe Otologic Laboratory in Mercy Hospital, Chicago, IL, over 250 infants and young children have been tested in a controlled study with BERA to establish or rule-out the diagnosis of hearing impairment. The use of BERA preceded by screening of a refined neonatal population has proven to be an effective method of early identification. The goals of the program are: 1. To identify hearing impaired children prior to passage of the critical periods, 2. To medically or surgically classify and treat and/or auditorily habilitate, and 3. To ultimately improve the quality of life of the child born with hearing impairment.
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