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Hearing Screening Program

The MDHHS Hearing Screening Program supports Local Health Departments in screening children at least once between the ages of 3 and 5 years, and every other year between the ages of 5 and 10 years.  Many Local Health Departments also screen children younger than 3 using Otoacoustic Emissions (OAEs).

Children may be unaware that they hear differently from their peers.  Early identification of hearing loss can alleviate speech/language delays, social/emotional delays, academic delays, and psychological delays.

The program is a 3-stage process that involves a preliminary screening (Stage I), an Intermediate Sweep and/or Audiogram (Stage II), and the Medical Referral Stage (Stage III).  About 5% of all children screened require a medical referral.

The GOALS of the Hearing Screening Program are to:

  • Identify hearing loss in children as early as possible,
  • Reduce preventable hearing loss and ear disease by facilitating prompt medical care for children at-risk for hearing loss,
  • Assist in the identification of hard of hearing children so their educational, medical, and social needs may be defined, and
  • Help parents and school personnel to understand the child's needs related to the hearing loss.

A referral is made to the child's primary care provider, pediatrician, Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) physician, or audiologist.  Follow-up is conducted by Local Health Departments on all referrals to assure that care is received.  Completed follow-up is reported by the Local Health Department to the MDHHS.

Some Local Health Departments also sponsor Otology Clinics where the child is evaluated by an audiologist and ENT free of charge.  The clinics are sponsored by Children's Special Health Care Services (CSHCS).

Screenings are free and available to all children in Michigan.  They are conducted in schools, preschool programs, and at your Local Health Department.

Each year:

  • Over 450,000 hearing screenings are performed annually on preschool and school-age children.
  • Hearing screenings may identify conductive, sensorineural, and mixed hearing losses as well as middle ear pathology.  Children are referred to medical professionals for diagnosis.
  • Children who are referred for medical treatment are screened every year unless directed otherwise.