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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the timeline of early hearing healthcare in infants with a history of lengthy (> 5 days) admission to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) compared to non-NICU peers. We compiled four years of state Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) records from 156,335 infants using a statewide administrative database. We compared age at the time of newborn hearing screening, diagnostic audiological evaluation, and entry into early intervention in NICU infants and non-NICU infants. We also compared the proportion of NICU and non-NICU infants meeting prescriptive EHDI timing benchmarks based on the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing position statement. Results indicated that NICU infants experienced delayed newborn hearing screening and diagnostic evaluation compared to non-NICU peers and reached both benchmarks in lower proportions. NICU and non-NICU infants entered early intervention at equivalent ages and met the early intervention benchmark in similar proportions. Considering the important medical factors that drive lengthy NICU admissions, our results suggest that specific clinical guidelines for the timing of early hearing healthcare in NICU infants may be warranted.

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