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Capps’ Newborn Hearing Screening Bill Passes House

Vote reauthorizes early detection initiative, sends measure to Senate.

By unanimous consent, the House of Representatives on Tuesday passed legislation carried by Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, to reauthorize the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act (HR 1198). The legislation was originally passed nine years ago as part of the Children’s Health Act.

“It is fitting that we are reauthorizing this historic legislation during National Public Health Week,” said Capps, a public health nurse. “Early detection of hearing problems is critical to developing and implementing an effective treatment program for children who experience hearing loss.

"Unfortunately, many of our children have substantial hearing problems that remain undetected and untreated for far too long. As a former school nurse, I know firsthand the social and educational setbacks faced by children who lack early intervention.”

Hearing loss in newborns is often undetected at birth, making it the United States’ most frequent birth defect. National EHDI goals are to screen all infants before 1 month of age, identify hearing loss before 3 months of age, and have children with hearing loss enrolled in early intervention services before 6 months of age.

Co-sponsored by Rep. Jim Walsh, R-N.Y., the reauthorization will address areas that continue to pose a challenge in detecting hearing loss in newborns, including providing critical family-to-family support programs, enabling the National Institutes of Health to establish a post-doctoral research fellowship program to recruit researchers for early hearing detection and intervention, and providing the Health and Human Services Department with the authority to address the shortage of trained professionals that are necessary to ensure all newborns are screened.

The measure now must go to the Senate for consideration.

Click here to watch Capps’ floor speech on the bill.

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