Early intervention after universal neonatal hearing screening: impact on outcomes

Ment Retard Dev Disabil Res Rev. 2003;9(4):252-66. doi: 10.1002/mrdd.10088.


This article summarizes the developmental outcomes of Colorado children with significant hearing loss. Some of the research compares children born in hospitals that have implemented universal newborn hearing screening programs for newborns. Other research compares the developmental outcomes of children who have been early-identified with hearing loss. Early-identification is defined as identification of hearing loss within the first six months of life. Late identification in the Colorado studies is defined as age of identification of hearing loss after the age of six months. In a few of the Colorado studies, age at initiation of intervention was used. Within the Colorado system, age of identification can be interpreted as almost synonymous with age of intervention, as the vast majority of children enter intervention services with two months after the identification of the hearing loss. Children who were early-identified and had early initiation of intervention services (within the first year of life) had significantly better vocabulary, general language abilities, speech intelligibility and phoneme repertoires, syntax as measured by mean length of utterance, social-emotional development, parental bonding, and parental grief resolution. Two other studies (Nebraska and Washington state) of early- versus later-initiation of intervention services report findings similar to the Colorado studies. Direct comparisons with the historical literature are not possible because the developmental delays of what would now be termed "later-identified" were too low to report developmental ages for the birth through five-year-old population.

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Colorado
  • Deafness / diagnosis
  • Deafness / rehabilitation*
  • Early Intervention, Educational*
  • Hearing Loss / diagnosis
  • Hearing Loss / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Language Development Disorders / diagnosis
  • Language Development Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Neonatal Screening*
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Social Adjustment
  • Speech Intelligibility
  • Vocabulary