Winger bill to ensure newborns receive hearing screenings heads to Governor

On Tuesday, State Representative Christine Winger's legislation to help parents identify hearing loss in their newborn babies passed the Senate and is headed to the Governor for his signature.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) two to three out of every 1,000 children in the United States are born with a hearing impairment. If hearing loss is not identified early, language development is delayed, affecting a child’s ability to learn and develop social skills.

 “Screening newborns and providing parents with intervention options as early as possible will help children develop language skills,” said Winger. “Research supports that children with hearing loss who are identified and receive appropriate intervention before age 6 months are able to develop language skills comparable to their hearing peer group.”

House Bill 4935 ensures newborn babies receive bilateral hearing screens within 30 days of birth when born outside a medical facility. Additionally, reporting requirements for positive results is defined along with enhanced information sharing between the service providers, which are both critical to better address the infants that fail the exams. Currently in Illinois, approximately 50% of babies fall off the radar for treatment, after a positive screening.  The new parameters in HB 4935 are steps to close the 50% gap.