Newborn hearing screening has a high participation rate of ∼97% of infants nationally, but a high lost to follow-up of ∼32% limits the effectiveness of the program. This study tested an intervention of targeted outpatient rescreening of infants through collaboration with the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program to improve follow-up rates for newborn hearing screen referrals.
Controlled intervention study of WIC-eligible infants who referred on newborn hearing screens at target hospitals. Hearing rescreens were performed by using screening auditory brainstem response testing by trained research assistants, coordinated with the infant’s WIC appointment. Loss to follow-up rates and age at follow-up were compared with non-WIC infants tracked via the Ohio Department of Health during the same time periods at the same hospitals and at nonintervention hospitals.
During a 2-year period, there were 1493 hearing screen referrals at 6 hospitals in the Cincinnati region recorded by the Ohio Department of Health. Of these, 260 WIC-eligible infants were referred to the study. Among WIC-eligible intervention infants, the lost to follow-up rate over 2 years was 9.6%, compared with 28.7% for nonintervention infants in the same hospitals and 18.1% for nonintervention hospitals. The average age of hearing confirmation for the WIC intervention group was 34.8 days, compared with 63.6 days in non-WIC infants. One-third of mothers reported barriers to follow-up.
Collaborating with WIC to provide targeted follow-up for newborn hearing screening improved loss to follow-up rates, decreased the age at hearing confirmation by 1 month, and addressed reported care barriers.