- OBJECTIVE: To compare the speech and language development of children with bilateral hearing loss and normal cognition who were born in hospitals with universal newborn hearing screening to that of their peers who were born in hospitals without this screening program. STUDY DESIGN: Subjects for the major analyses are 50 Colorado children (25 matched pairs) from 9 to 61 months old who are participants in a study of the development of children birth to six with bilateral hearing loss. Analyses included parametric dependent t-tests and analysis of covariance, nonparametric chi-squared and Wilcoxon signed rank tests, descriptive statistics and odds ratios. RESULTS: Newborn screening programs for hearing loss are positively related to scores in expressive and receptive language (p < 0.001) and vocabulary production (p < 0.001) on standardized inventories; speech intelligibility (p = 0.015) from independent ratings; number of different simple consonants (p < 0.01) and consonant blends (p = 0.026) from phonological transcripts; and total number of intelligible words (p < 0.01) and number of different words produced (p < 0.01) from computer analysis of videotaped language samples. CONCLUSION: Hospital-based newborn hearing screening programs are positively related to language and speech performance for children in early intervention programs who are deaf and hard of hearing.