American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Alabama Hearing Screening Requirements for Newborns and School-Aged Children

The following information summarizes hearing screening programs for newborns and school-aged children.

The information has been collected by researching individual state statutes, regulations, policy documents, and by contacting each state. The information is reviewed on an annual basis. Please be advised that regulations and policy may change at any time, so always check with your state for the most up-to-date information.

Newborn Screening

Screening

The administrative officer or other persons in charge of each institution caring for infants 28 days or less of age, or the physician attending a newborn child or the person attending a newborn child who was not attended by a physician must have administered to every such infant or child in his care a reliable test for hypothyroidism and a reliable test for phenylketonuria (PKU), such as the Guthrie test, or any other test considered equally reliable by the state board of health and a reliable test for sickle cell anemia, sickle cell trait, and/or abnormal hemoglobin and such other tests relating to mental retardation or other heritable diseases and conditions as are designated by the board of health. Provided, however, that the board of health shall designate only conditions that are detectable by mass screening of newborn infants. Initial mass screening tests and the recording of results shall be performed by the public health laboratory at such times and in such manner as may be prescribed by the state board of health; confirmatory tests shall be undertaken by such laboratory facilities as are designated by the attending physician or parent; provided, that no such initial screening or confirmatory tests shall be given to any child whose parents object thereto on the grounds that such tests conflict with their religious tenets and practices.

Intervention

The Alabama Department of Public Health shall make contact with the physician of record and the parent/guardian of newborns who test positive for phenylketonuria, hypothyroidism, galactosemia, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, hearing loss, hemoglobinopathy, biotinidase deficiency, cystic fibrosis, aminoacidopathies, fatty acid oxidation disorders, organic acidurias and acidemias and other heritable diseases to notify them of positive test results and to ascertain whether or not these newborns are under the care of a private physician.

Additionally, the Alabama Department of Public Health shall make contact with the physician of record and the parent/guardian to advise them of the services available through the Alabama Department of Public Health. Newborns who are under the care of a private physician may additionally utilize these same services. The Alabama Department of Public Health may make contact with the family to make their services available or may assist the family in obtaining the services of a private physician. Services include health assessments, treatment, and referrals to tertiary care centers.

Standards/Protocols

Standards/protocols are not addressed by laws/regulations.

Tracking/Reporting

The Alabama Department of Public Health shall report all results of phenylketonuria, hypothyroidism, galactosemia, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, hearing loss, hemoglobinopathy, biotinidase deficiency, cystic fibrosis, aminoacidopathies, fatty acid oxidation disorders, organic acidurias and acidemias, and other heritable disease testing to the submitting health care provider. Test results on transferred infants may be made available to both the transferring and receiving facilities.

The submitting health care provider shall report all results, including positives, suspected positive results, and unsatisfactory specimens, to the physician of record (the physician indicated on the collection form) of the newborns tested and shall use such forms and follow such guidelines as shall be determined by the State Health Officer. The health care provider shall report the results of any hearing tests performed on the newborns to the Alabama Department of Public Health and shall use such forms and follow such guidelines as shall be determined by the State Health Officer.

The Department of Public Health may release results of newborn screening tests, including hearing screening results, to any physician registered with the Alabama Voice Response System under the terms and conditions of the system without a signed release from the parent or guardian.

School-Age Screening

Alabama laws/regulations do not require school-age hearing screenings.

Resources

For further information on hearing screening requirements, visit these websites:

Questions regarding state advocacy issues? Call ASHA at 800-498-2071 and ask for the State Advocacy Team.

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