Oregon’s Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program (EHDI)
The First Fifteen Years (1989-2004)
Following unsuccessful efforts in the early 1990’s, using a “high-risk” registry to identify infants with hearing loss, and following the development of practical automated electrophysiologic technology to identify hearing loss in infants, community advocates and the Office of Family Health (OFH) lobbied to introduce universal newborn hearing screening in Oregon. In 1999, the Legislature adopted a compromise bill that mandated screening in all hospitals with more than 200 births annually. When the new law took effect, in July 2000, the proportion of infants screened rapidly rose from 25% to over 94%. In 2003, the Legislature added mandatory individual-level reporting and the OFH established a registry. With these essential elements now in place, a critical task is to ensure complete follow-up of infants failing newborn hearing screening with diagnostic testing and early intervention, if appropriate. Health promoters and educators will play a key role encouraging participation in the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program by health professionals and parents.