​​​​​​​​Know the Benefits

The California Newborn Hearing Screening Program (NHSP) is a comprehensive coordinated system (See NHSP Flow Chart) of early identification and provision of appropriate services for infants with hearing loss by:

  • Completing hearing screening on approximately 515,000 infants during their hospital birth admission or while receiving care in the intensive care newborn nursery (ICNN).
  • Tracking and monitoring of roughly 10,300 infants to assure that appropriate follow-up testing and diagnostic evaluations are completed.
  • Providing access to medical treatment and other appropriate educational and support services
  • Providing coordinated care through collaboration with those agencies delivering early intervention services to infants and their families.

The incidence of permanent significant hearing loss is approximately 2-4 per every 1000 infants. It is the most common congenital condition for which there is a screening program. It is estimated that the NHSP will identify approximately 1000 infants with hearing loss each year.

The major focus of the program is to assure that every infant, who does not pass a hearing test, is linked quickly and efficiently with the appropriate diagnostic and treatment services and with the other intervention services needed for the best possible outcome. Recent research shows infants with hearing loss, who have appropriate diagnosis, treatment and early intervention services initiated before six months of age, can develop normal language and communication skills.


The California Newborn Hearing Screening Program has two major components:


1.  Screening

2.  Geographically Based Hearing Coordination Centers

  • 1.  Screening

  • Hospitals with licensed perinatal services and/or intensive care newborn nurseries (ICNN) will perform hearing screenings on all newborns born in their facility or those receiving care in the ICNN prior to discharge. The Department of Health Care Services will assure the quality of the screening programs by certifying that the hospital meets standards put forth by the NHSP. This certification will allow the hospitals to be reimbursed by the State for Medi-Cal eligible infants or babies with no identifiable insurance.  When fully implemented, this program will serve approximately 515,000 infants, approximately 93 percent of the total births in California. Funding is available to separately reimburse hospitals for the testing of infants whose care is paid for by the Medi-Cal program. This will provide payment for about 50 percent of the infants tested. Hospitals to be certified must demonstrate that an internal system is present that:
    • uses appropriately trained and supervised individuals to perform the tests
    • uses appropriate equipment
    • has a commitment to staff physician education
    • has a commitment to family/parent education 
    • has policies and procedures in place to assure the forwarding of test results and referral of infant with abnormal
      test results
  • 2​.  Geographically Based Hearing Coordination Centers

    The Hearing Coordination Centers (HCC), a concept unique to California's Newborn Hearing Screening Program (NHSP), are a very critical component. The HCCs will assure that the system operates efficiently; the screenings and services are of high quality; and, most importantly, babies failing the hearing screening test are not lost to follow-up. In states without coordinated tracking systems, up to 50% of the infants who fail the inpatient screen do not receive the necessary services to determine if a hearing loss is present. It is essential that infants who do not pass the screening tests receive prompt evaluation and intervention if appropriate. Otherwise, the benefit and purpose of early screening and identification is lost.

Each HCC is responsible for a specified geographic area. 

The functions of the HCC include:

  • assisting hospitals to develop and implement their screening programs,
  • certifying hospitals to participate as screening sites 
  • monitoring programs of the participating hospitals
  • assuring that infants with abnormal hearing screenings receive necessary follow-up including rescreening, diagnostic evaluation, treatment, and referral to early intervention service agencies, as appropriate providing information to families and providers so they can more effectively advocate with commercial health plans to access appropriate treatment.

For additional information regarding the NHSP, please contact the HCC in your area. 

Last modified date: 11/4/2019 3:52 PM