WABI reports on study examining link between newborn hearing test data and later diagnoses of Autism Spectrum Disorder

WABI (Channel 5) reported on a study conducted by researchers with the University of Maine’s College of Education and Human Development concluding that newborns who did not pass their initial hearing screen but who later were found to have typical hearing had higher rates of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in 5 to 10 years. Children who did not pass their newborn hearing test — the Automated Auditory Brainstem Response (AABR) — but who were later found to have normal hearing were at more than eight times the odds of being identified as having ASD when 5 to 7 years old, and more than six times the odds when 8 to 10 years old. The odds decreasing with the older age group can be attributed to various factors, including more children being identified with ASD as they age and outmigration of families from Maine. “We just think it’s important that we find ways to help identify these conditions as early as possible so that proper intervention services can be provided to these children,” said Shihfen Tu, professor of education and applied quantitative methods and the lead author of the study. Co-authors include Craig Mason, professor of education and applied quantitative methods; Deborah Rooks-Ellis, assistant professor of special education and director of the Maine Autism Institute for Education and Research; and Patricia Lech, research associate with the Maine Education Policy Research Institute.