Advances in technology now make it possible to screen babies for hearing loss soon after they are born. When babies with hearing loss are identified early, intervention can have a dramatic, positive impact on speech, language, and overall development. Because of this, the Massachusetts Legislature passed a law that mandates hearing screening for all newborns in the Commonwealth. Each birth hospital and birth center is required to have a program to ensure that every baby has his or her hearing screened before going home. Babies who do not pass or miss a hearing screening are referred to audiological diagnostic centers approved by the Department of Public Health. In Massachusetts, one of every four infants who do not pass a hearing screening will be diagnosed with a hearing loss. The Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Program helps families access services if their newborn missed or did not pass a hearing screen.

Key Program Activities:

  • Convene the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Advisory Committee
  • Confirm screening results, follow-up appointments, diagnosis and Early Intervention (EI) enrollment
  • Provide parent-to-parent support upon diagnosis
  • Review and approve hospital and audiological diagnostic center protocols
  • Data quality assurance activities
  • Provide training to approved audiological diagnostic centers

National Program Goals 1, 3, 6

1 = Screening prior to hospital discharge, but no later than 1 month after birth

3 = Diagnosis by 3 months of age

6 = Enrollment into Early Intervention upon diagnosis, but no later than 6 months of age

This information is provided by the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Program within the Department of Public Health.