Virginia Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (VEHDI) Program

Up to 300 babies are born each year in Virginia with hearing loss. Thus, it is important to test all newborn babies before they leave the hospital. If hearing loss is detected early, a child will have the best chance to learn and develop. Research has shown that children with hearing loss can progress normally in their language and social skills when intervention begins by six months of age. The technology exists that allows babies with congenital hearing loss to be identified safely, early, inexpensively and with minimal discomfort to the baby and concern of the family. Early identification of hearing loss and early appropriate intervention promote optimal functioning and reduce health care, special education, and other service costs for families and taxpayers. The Code of Virginia ยง32.1-64.1 and the Virginia regulations 12 VAC 5-80 require that all hospitals with newborn nurseries and all hospitals with neonatal intensive care services will screen the hearing of all newborns prior to discharge and report to the Virginia Department of Health through the Virginia Infants Screening Infant Tracking System (VISITS) in the Virginia Vital Events and Screening Tracking System (VVESTS). As co-chair of the VEHDI Advisory Committee, EVMS Otolaryngology chair Dr. Barry Strasnick oversees the implementation of this program statewide. Hospitals are also required to inform the parent and the child's primary health care provider about the infant's risk status and/or screening results and recommendations for follow-up. Persons who provide audiological services are required to: report children who are at risk for hearing loss, children who fail to pass a hearing screening and children identified with hearing loss to the Virginia Department of Health; and to give parents information about hearing loss, including choices about learning communication, and to refer them to local early intervention services.