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Dr. Betty Vohr honored for Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Excellence

Betty R. Vohr, MD, of Barrington, director of Women & Infants Hospital's Neonatal Follow-Up Clinic and medical director of the Rhode Island Hearing Assessment Program, has been presented with the national Antonia Brancia Maxon Award for Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Excellence. The award was presented at the National EHDI Meeting in St. Louis on March 5, 2012.

A graduate of Albany Medical College, Dr. Vohr has been the national coordinator of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network follow-up studies since 1990. Dr. Vohr is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Hearing, The Joint Committee of Infant Hearing (former Chair), and Chair of the Rhode Island Hearing Advisory Committee. Her primary clinical and research interests focus on improving the long-term outcomes of high-risk premature infants and infants with hearing loss. Dr. Vohr is participating in studies investigating the outcomes of premature infants and the outcomes of infants with hearing loss. She has published more than 200 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals, as well as numerous textbook chapters.

Hearing loss is the most commonly occurring disability in US infants, affecting as many as 20,000 babies a year. The consequences of late detection are significant and can result in lifelong communication, social, psychological, behavioral, and educational problems. Research has shown that babies who are identified with hearing loss and receive intervention services within six months of age outperform (at 40 months) those babies who were identified and received services after six months of age.

In 1993, Rhode Island legislation mandating universal newborn hearing screening took effect, and the Rhode Island Hearing Assessment Program (RIHAP) based at Women & Infants, became the first public health program of its kind in the United States. Since that time, RIHAP has screened 99% of Rhode Island's newborn babies (14,000 annually) for hearing loss at its seven hospitals.

This award honors the career achievements of Dr. Antonia Brancia Maxon to promote effective Early Hearing Detection and Intervention programs for all newborns, infants, and young children. Dr. Maxon was a pioneer in EHDI programs, beginning with her leadership in the Rhode Island Hearing Assessment Project in the late 1980s. She was one of the first to recognize the feasibility and value of universal newborn hearing screening and was a tireless advocate for connecting screening programs with timely and appropriate diagnosis and early intervention.

Her extensive contributions to creating excellent EHDI programs were abruptly ended by a tragic automobile accident in May 2007. In memory of her contributions, an Award for EHDI Excellence is presented each year at the National EHDI Meeting to honor an individual or group of people who have made a noteworthy accomplishment in achieving excellence in EHDI programs nationally or in a particular state or region of the country.

Dr. Vohr said, "Our team at Women & Infants Hospital has been at the forefront of newborn hearing screening, beginning with the work of Dr. Maxon. To have this work recognized is truly humbling."


Contact: Amy Blustein
Women & Infants Hospital

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