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EHDI Program Information

Program Eligibility and Referrals

All infants born in Alberta or born to parents living in Alberta are eligible for screening within 90 days of birth. It’s best for infants to be screened within 30 days of birth.

Infants born with bilateral aural atresia or presenting with meningitis are not eligible for screening. These infants are referred directly to audiology services for a diagnostic Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) assessment.

Physician referral is not required for hearing screening through the EHDI Program within 90 days of birth.

If a parent is concerned about their infant’s hearing after 90 days of birth, a referral should be made to Audiology Services for a hearing assessment using the Alberta Referral Directory,

For additional information, view the service listing for the EHDI Program.

Implementation

Newborn hearing screening through the EHDI Program is now offered throughout Albera, free of charge at most hospitals with over 200 births per year and targeted community sites. For a list of sites currently offering this service, view the service listing for the EHDI Program.

Newborn hearing screening is offered as an inpatient service for infants in all NICUs as well as postpartum units at most hospitals with over 200 births per year. Infants can also be screened as an outpatient, by appointment only at community-based screening sites.

Diagnostic ABR assessments are available in all 5 zones at a total of 8 audiology sites.

EHDI Program Overview

Once fully implemented, Alberta’s EHDI Program Pathway will be made up of a series of fully integrated and coordinated services. To date, standardized protocols and procedures have been developed for the first three components of the pathway. Development of standardized, evidence-informed approaches for Intervention Services and Transition of Care is in progress.

Information & Offer

During pregnancy and after birth, families will be offered information about newborn hearing screening and will have the opportunity to have their infant’s hearing screened.

Newborn Hearing Screening

Newborn hearing screening will be completed as an inpatient service (NICU or postpartum) prior to discharge, or in a community screening site no later than  one month of age.

Diagnostic Hearing Assessment

Infants who do not pass their hearing screening will be referred for a diagnostic ABR hearing assessment to confirm or rule out permanent hearing loss no later than three months of age.

Intervention Services

When a permanent hearing loss is identified, support services and intervention options will be offered and coordinated with families no later than six months of age.

Transition of Care

At the end of their journey in the EHDI Program, families will be offered coordinated transition to ongoing child development services.

Target Condition

The EHDI Program targets permanent congenital hearing loss (PCHL) in one (unilateral) or both (bilateral) ears. The hearing loss may be sensorineural (including auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder), conductive or mixed in nature.

Hearing Screening

The EHDI Program uses two types of hearing tests to screen infants for permanent hearing loss:

Automated Transient Evoked Otoacoustic Emission (ATEOAE)

ATEOAE is a screening method that measures how well the cochlea or inner ear is working. A series of clicks is presented at 45-60 dB HL through a probe placed in the infant’s ear canal. The infant’s ear should respond by producing its own sounds which are detected by a small microphone within the probe.

Automated Auditory Brainstem Response (AABR)

AABR is a screening method that measures how the brain and auditory nerve respond to sound. Soft chirping sounds are presented at 40 dB nHL through an ear probe in the infant’s ear. Three sensors placed on the infant’s head pick up the brain’s response to the sound.

Diagnostic ABR Assessment

The diagnostic Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) assessment is a specialized hearing test conducted by an audiologist to confirm or rule out PCHL. This assessment is completed as soon as possible after a ‘Refer’ screening result.

Provincial Notice of Birth

Hearing screening through the EHDI Program has been added to the Provincial Notice of Birth/Stillbirth.

The process used for Public Health to action a “required” indication differs by zone.