Arizona gets grant to boost variety of services for newborns with hearing loss

Jun 17, 2024, 4:35 AM

Newborn hearing screenings, other services bolstered by new grant...

A baby can be seen taking a hearing test. (File photo By BSIP/UIG Via Getty Images)

(File photo By BSIP/UIG Via Getty Images)

PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) has received an up to $235,000 dollar grant to increase access to newborn hearing screenings and related services.

The funds came from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration.

ADHS secured the funds through a partnership with the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing.

Pv Jantz, a family services specialist for the commission, said the funds will have a positive impact on the Valley.

They’ll help provide more newborn screenings for hearing loss, as well as follow-up care, he told KTAR News 92.3 FM through an interpreter.

More newborn hearing screenings for infants will benefit Arizona, expert says

Hearing screenings are done soon after childbirth. They’re an important method parents and doctors use to identify possible hearing loss in newborns.

“They, at three months, will be sent to an audiologist,” Jantz said, referring to babies who take hearing tests. “By six months, they will be able to identify if they have a hearing loss. Then they can start the early intervention process.”

This grant also calls for language acquisition services, Jantz said.

These services can help ensure children who are deaf or who have hearing loss can develop communication skills. Children can learn how to speak aloud, communicate with American Sign Language or use a combination of the two.

“So that all children from birth to ages five or six, during that critical language window, have the necessary access to language [services] in order to develop,” Jantz said.

The earlier children who may need these services can access them, the more likely they are to be both successful and independent in life.

Many children in Arizona are missing that critical language window

The news of the funding came after the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing reported a negative trend in terms of newborn hearing screenings.

The report found that the number of American children who have missed important follow-up treatments related to hearing loss has doubled since 2018.

Jantz said that’s partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During that time, people were not always able to see medical specialists in a timely manner.

While hearing loss screenings are required by law in Arizona, parents do have the option to opt out.

Jantz recommends against opting out because parents are typically not able to identify hearing loss on their own in the first few years of a child’s life.

“Of course, we want all children to be healthy as possible and develop,” he said. “By taking the screening, that’s the best chance to do so.”

People who want to learn more about services related to hearing loss or deafness can reach out to the commission online or over the phone through 602-542-3323.

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Arizona gets grant to boost variety of services for newborns with hearing loss