Semin Hear 2000; 21(4): 285-294
DOI: 10.1055/s-2000-13467
Copyright © 2000 by Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc., 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA. Tel.: +1(212) 584-4662


Marion P. Downs
  • University of Colorado Health Sciences Denver, Colorado
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
31 December 2000 (online)


Screening testing of young infants' hearing was initiated by the Ewings in England in 1944, and variations of their tests were used in Europe and other countries for many years. Efforts to screen newborns with noisemakers began shortly thereafter in Japan, Sweden, and the United States. Universal newborn screening with electronic sounds was introduced in Denver, Colorado, in 1964, but was discontinued after the formation of the National Joint Committee on Infant Hearing. This Committee recommended the use of a High Risk Register and in 1982 suggested that electrophysiologic techniques be employed. These techniques had been available since the 1950s, with the advent of the signal-averaging computer. In 1986, the first commercial automated auditory brain stem-evoked response (ABR) instrument was developed, fostering the development of universal newborn hearing screening. In the United States, with most of the states having laws mandating universal screening, and the federal government also providing support to the states, universal newborn screening is well on its way to becoming a worldwide essential.