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EHDI News for Physicians

Introducing the Newest Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Physician Champion 

My name is Daniel Rocco Morra MD FAAP, and I am a pediatrician with a private practice based in Breese, IL and Shiloh, IL. Earlier this year, I was named American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Illinois Co-Chapter Champion for the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) program.

I am joining Dana Suskind MD, Professor of Surgery and Pediatrics in the Section of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and director of the Cochlear Implantation Program at the University of Chicago, who has been supporting EHDI in her practice and research for many years.

I have a particular passion for this topic, as my wife, Amy, a speech-language pathologist, and I have three sons, two of whom did not pass the newborn hearing screen (NBHS) in the hospital. The boys were subsequently diagnosed as having congenital hearing loss. I know first-hand of the value of newborn hearing screening, seeing my sons benefit from the screening, audiological evaluation and subsequent early intervention to promote their communication and language development and subsequent successes. Both boys were fitted with hearing aids at or before the age of 3 months, and the youngest Morra had cochlear implantation surgery at St. Louis Children's Hospital at the age of 13 months.

In March, I attended the 14th Annual National EHDI meeting in Louisville, KY, and was able to discuss newborn hearing with many people, including fellow chapter champions, physicians, audiologists, speech pathologists, educators, and fellow parents of children who were born deaf or hard of hearing.

Hearing loss is the most frequently occurring birth defect for which screening can be done at the time of birth. Up to three in 1000 children are born deaf or hard of hearing. The EHDI program emphasizes the "1-3-6" guideline in which every infant is screened no later than 1 month of age, diagnostic audiological evaluation is completed no later than 3 months of age, and early intervention services are initiated no later than 6 months of age.

Unfortunately, parents and professionals alike are not as aware of newborn hearing screening and deafness as they should be. Statistics indicate that Illinois has one of the higher lost to follow-up rates in the nation. Some parents are not aware that their newborn's hearing was screened. Other parents may not realize the importance of follow-up. Some health care providers may need more instruction on how to advise parents on follow-up and act as a "Medical Home" for patients with hearing loss and their parents.

Oversight regarding newborn hearing abnormalities can lead to developmental speech and language delay, subsequent social deficits, deficits in educational development and potential lifelong disability. It is the AAP Chapter Champions' duty to prevent this from happening.

Dr. Suskind and I are committed to educating the residents of Illinois, especially parents and health care professionals, about the importance of hearing screening, and the need for vigilant follow-up, so that childhood hearing loss does not go overlooked. Should you have any questions about the EHDI program or about NBHS and its subsequent follow-up, we can be reached at:

Dr. Morro the new EHDI physician champion 

Dr. Morra, 618-526-8850, email

Dr. Suskind EHDI physician champion

Dr. Suskind, 773-702-1865, email

You can also contact the Illinois Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program Partners:

AAP EHDI Chapter Champion Program

Each American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Chapter has identified at least one individual to serve as the EHDI Chapter Champion. This individual is responsible for leading and responding to health care provider concerns regarding newborn hearing screening in the state. The EHDI Chapter Champions are involved in working with their state department of human services/department of public health staff and other in state government agencies as well as other pediatric health care providers in the state on EHDI programs and activities. Chapter Champions seek opportunities for educating members of their respective chapters and other in the state on EHDI activities and are also involved in collaborating with their peers to influence state-level policy and programs related to children who are identified with hearing loss. For more information, contact Faiza Khan, MPH, AAP Program Manager at 847-434-4924.